Clarke, who stars as Daenerys Targaryen in the show, describes how she was first struck by what felt like an elastic band squeezing her brain while training at a London gym after filming season one of the show.
“For a few moments, I tried to will away the pain and the nausea,” Clarke writes. “I said to myself, ‘I will not be paralyzed.’ I moved my fingers and toes to make sure that was true. To keep my memory alive, I tried to recall, among other things, some lines from Game of Thrones.”
Clarke was rushed to hospital, where she was sent for an MRI and promptly diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. “I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture,” she writes.
For days after urgent brain surgery, Clarke was unable to remember her own name: “In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job — my entire dream of what my life would be — centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost.”
Recovery from the first operation was relatively swift, but it wasn’t long before a second aneurysm on the other side of her brain meant she had to go under the knife again. “I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any that Daenerys experienced,” she explains. “I emerged from the operation with a drain coming out of my head. Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium.”
After her article was published, Clarke took to Instagram to launch SameYou, a charity dedicated to helping young people access rehabilitation following brain injuries or stroke.