Turns out Kevin Sorbo is a real-life superhero.
Now 52, the actor secretly endured a series of debilitating strokes while shooting Hercules in the late 1990s, he reveals to Neurology Now.
In 1997, the star of the hugely successful syndicated show began feeling troubling sensations (aches, tingling and cold sensations) in his left arm and hand. Doctors checked it out at the time, Sorbo says, "but they didn't believe it was anything serious."
Later, after a visit to a chiropractor, the star experienced blurry vision, dizziness and a buzzing in his head. The next morning, his speech was slurred and he could barely talk.
A series of hospital tests revealed that Sorbo, then 38, had suffered an aneurysm in an artery near his sholder.
"Apparently, the aneurysm had been producing blood clots for some time," Sorbo explained. "I had blockages all down my arm that were making my fingers cold, tingly, and numb."
To repair the problem, Sorbo underwent surgery, in which an angiogram tube helped insert platinum coils around the aneurysm; it was later revealed that Sorbo had experienced a total of three strokes during the ordeal. Hercules producers helped accommodate Sorbo -- with guest stars and script rewrites -- during his secret recovery.
"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," admits Sorbo, who wrote about the health scares in True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life.
"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."