Sharon Stone played down the extent of her 2001 brain aneurysm, because she feared Hollywood would turn its back on her if she was honest.
The Basic Instinct star's brain injury was caused by a vertebral artery dissection - a tear in her neck that bled out to form a blood clot - but, although media reports suggested Sharon was battling a serious health issue, she insisted she was fine.
Now she reveals her condition was much worse than fans could have ever imagined.
“I had a brain bleed and stroke which lasted nine days," she tells U.K. newspaper The Mirror. "They gave me a five per cent chance of survival. It wasn't diet or lifestyle. Sometimes the brain malfunctions and mine malfunctioned in a big way.”
“When I got home (from hospital) it affected my left ear, I couldn’t hear anything," she added. "I couldn’t feel anything in my left leg. I was blind in one eye then I went completely blind temporarily. Completely black.
“It was like my senses were shutting down. I couldn’t write my name for three years. I was lucky to be alive but the odds of my body restoring itself to full health were very small."
Although she suffered temporary paralysis, Sharon was intent on keeping up appearances in Hollywood peers by continuing to act and attend red carpet events, but she admits her well-being was mostly a charade.
“I never wanted the world - specifically the industry - to know how serious it was," she shares. "I would have become unhireable. So I hid it the best I could. It took a very long time (to recover). I had to learn to live again, it was an overwhelming challenge.”
Sharon turned 60 on Saturday (10Mar18) and following her near-death experience 17 years ago, she is genuinely shocked to still be alive.
“I never guessed I’d be happy turning 60," she adds. "Let’s be real, it’s old. But it’s the greatest achievement for me because there was a time I wasn't sure if I’d make 50."
Sharon admits that roles in Steven Soderbergh's TV series Mosaic and a secret upcoming film project with her Casino director Martin Scorsese have given her a new lease on life.
“I had a photographic memory but that’s gone now," she says, "and I take medication every night to prevent new strokes in the brain. But the fact I’m acting again, and not just in small roles, is a huge win. It’s true that what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. I do feel stronger and reinforced."