In the piece, she talks about the highs and lows of being on the show, as well as describing some of the stresses that could have contributed to her health issues.
Clarke also goes into extraordinary detail about the experience of having an aneurysm, which makes for an uncomfortable read.
“My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain—shooting, stabbing, constricting pain—was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”
And it wasn’t Clarke’s final trip to the hospital.
“I went in for a brain scan—something I now had to do regularly. The growth on the other side of my brain had doubled in size, and the doctor said we should “take care of it.” I was promised a relatively simple operation, easier than last time. Not long after, I found myself in a fancy-pants private room at a Manhattan hospital. My parents were there. “See you in two hours,” my mum said, and off I went for surgery, another trip up the femoral artery to my brain. No problem.”
“Except there was. When they woke me, I was screaming in pain. The procedure had failed. I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn’t operate again. This time they needed to access my brain in the old-fashioned way—through my skull. And the operation had to happen immediately.”
It’s an astonishing story, and well worth reading in full. Clarke’s been nominated for Emmys three times for her work on Game Of Thrones, but has never won – we wonder if things might have been different if her peers had known what she was dealing with behind the scenes of the show.
Game Of Thrones season eight starts on Monday, April 15 on Sky Atlantic.