Sharon Stone has said doctors thought she was “faking” what turned out to be a brain haemorrhage that had resulted from a ruptured vertebral artery.
Two decades ago in 2001, the 65-year-old actress – who starred in 1992 film Basic Instinct – suffered a stroke that led to a nine-day brain bleed.
Recalling the moment she woke up in a Los Angeles emergency room with crippling head pain, Stone told Vogue: “I remember waking up on a gurney and asking the kid wheeling it where I was going, and him saying, ‘brain surgery.’
“A doctor had decided, without my knowledge or consent, that he should give me exploratory brain surgery and sent me off to the operating room.”
She added: “What I learned through that experience is that in a medical setting, women often just aren’t heard, particularly when you don’t have a female doctor.”
Speaking on how they realised she had a brain haemorrhage, she said: “They missed it with the first angiogram and decided that I was faking it.
“My best friend talked them into giving me a second one and they discovered that I had been haemorrhaging into my brain, my whole subarachnoid pool, and that my vertebral artery was ruptured. I would have died if they had sent me home.”
She went on: “I bled so much into my subarachnoid pool (head, neck, and spine) that the right side of my face fell, my left foot was dragging severely, and I was stuttering very badly.”
The actress said that she now takes medication daily to address the stuttering and severe brain seizures.
“For the first couple of years I would also get these weird knuckle-like knots that would come up all over the top of my head that felt like I was getting punched”, she said, adding: “I can’t express how painful it all was.”
Stone had not shared details of her brain bleed for some years after it occurred as she was worried about public reaction.
“I hid my disability and was afraid to go out and didn’t want people to know,” said Stone.
“I just thought no-one would accept me.”
Stone is now a board member of the Barrow Neurological Foundation in the US which treats “devastating brain and spine conditions”, and it has created Neuro Night, a charity event taking place on October 27 to raise money for the foundation.