"Hercules" Kevin Sorbo has revealed for the first time that, while filming his hit series in 1997, he suffered three strokes that left him "depressed and frustrated" and with a bad attitude for the two years it took him to recover.
In a Neurology Now magazine interview that teases Sorbo's new memoir "True Strength," the actor says his health troubles left him partially blind and grasping "the backs of chairs and counters for an arduous five-yard trip to the bathroom."
"I went through two years of hell before I began to feel like myself again," says Sorbo, 52. "I was depressed and frustrated and had a bad attitude."
Sorbo, who worked out rigorously to play "Hercules" and perform his own stunts, was exercising in the summer of 1997 when, out of the blue, he began to feel pain and cold sensations in his left arm and hand.
Doctors checked him out and found nothing seriously wrong with him, and he resumed working out. The pain continued, however, and while lifting weights one day, he experienced severe pain down his shoulder. Again, a chiropractor checked him out, and found nothing seriously wrong.
But on the drive home from the chiropractor appointment, Sorbo experienced blurry vision and dizziness. He arrived home safely and decided to "sleep it off," but awoke the next morning with slurred speech and found himself barely able to walk.
A trip to the ER finally pinpointed the cause: Sorbo had an aneurysm near his shoulder, which had been causing blood clots. Two of the main arteries into his hand were completely blocked, and after he underwent surgery, an MRI test showed Sorbo had suffered three separate strokes before he was diagnosed.
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Doctors told him that given his age at the time — 38 — and his physical fitness, he was a medical anomaly. They said the chances of him experiencing both an aneurysm and multiple strokes had been one in 75 million.
"My illness made me special in a way that I never wanted nor expected," Neurology Now quotes him as saying. "I'm not Hercules; I'm a mere mortal with human limitations and problems. But I am determined to not behave like a victim anymore."
Sorbo, who guest-starred on an episode of "Hawaii Five-0" last season, is developing a new TV series, "Legendary." In the comical Syfy project, he would play Kevin Sorbo, who is recruited by a "Hercules" fan to battle underworld monsters in Los Angeles.