Kevin Sorbo, Hercules

USA Network

Even Hercules can have health problems.

Actor Kevin Sorbo, the chiseled star of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Andromeda and Soul Surfer revealed a secret he has been keeping from fans for almost 15 years: He suffered a series of strokes while filming the cult favorite series that made him famous.

In an interview with Neurology News, Sorbo, 52, opens up about his health crisis.

Sorbo's health problems began in the summer of 1997 while he was filming the series Hercules. He went to several doctors while on a publicity tour after he began feeling pain, aching, tingling and cold sensations in his left arm and hand. "[The doctors] didn't believe it was anything serious," Sorbo told the journal.

Sorbo ignored the pain until he felt a searing pain shoot down his left shoulder during a workout one day. After visiting a chiropractor, Sorbo experienced blurrry vision and dizziness on his drive home. The next morning, he could barely walk and his speech was slurred. He finally went to the hospital.

Doctors soon discovered he had an aneurysm in an artery near his shoulder, which disrupted the blood flow to his lower arm. "Apparently, the aneurysm has been producing blood clots for some time," Sorbo says. "I had blockages all down my arm that were making my fingers cold, tingly and numb."

After undergoing a procedure, Sorbo learned he had experienced three strokes.

Sorbo reveals that he struggled with his 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-year trip to the bathroom," he says. "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.

"My illness made me special in a way that I never wanted nor expected," Sorbo told NN. "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 discusses his health scare more in-depth in his new book True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life, which will be released next month.

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