October 02, 2011 10:07pm PT by THR staff
'Hercules' Star Kevin Sorbo Says He Hid Several Strokes During the Series
Kevin Sorbo hid a huge secret while starring in the hit 1990s series Hercules.
The actor suffered a series of strokes while shooting the show, which aired in syndication from 1994-99.
In 1997, at age 38, Sorbo began feeling pain, aches, tingling and cold sensations in his left arm and hand.
“At the time, I was promoting the feature film Kull the Conqueror," Sorbo told Neurology Now. "I had several doctors on my publicity tour check me out, but they didn't believe it was anything serious. I even had what seemed like a rational explanation, having recently injured my ulnar nerve -- the funny bone.”
Then one day while lifting weights, Sorbo felt a pain in his left shoulder and made an appointment with his longtime chiropractor, who cracked his neck to release tension.
But on the way home, Sorbo began to experience blurry vision, dizziness, and buzzing in his head. The next morning, he woke up to find that his speech was slurred and he could barely walk.
He checked himself into the hospital, where a series of tests found that he had "severe disruption of blood flow to his lower arm caused by an aneurysm in an artery near his shoulder."
“Apparently, the aneurysm had been producing blood clots for some time," said Sorbo, whose recent credits include the film Soul Surfer and the TV series Hawaii 5-0. "I had blockages all down my arm that were making my fingers cold, tingly, and numb."
Sorbo, now 52, underwent a surgical procedure whereby an angiogram tube was used to insert platinum coils around the aneurysm. After the procedure, Sorbo learned he had suffered three distinct strokes, but the cause remains unknown.
Sorbo -- who also addresses his health scares in his new book, True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life -- added that it was a long recovery process. The Hercules producers were accommodating, he said, noting that they brought on guest stars and rewrote scripts while Sorbo recovered.
"I felt like I had been transformed overnight from a youthful, carefree jock into someone who needed to grasp the backs of chairs and counters for an arduous five-yard trip to the bathroom," Sorbo said, adding: "I went through two years of hell before I began to feel like myself again. I was depressed and frustrated and had a bad attitude."