— -- In 2001, Sharon Stone was rushed to the hospital with a stroke and a subsequent cerebral hemorrhage that lasted nine days.
She emerged alive but limping, stuttering and unable to read; her marriage to journalist Phil Bronstein fell apart and she lost custody of their adopted son, Roan.
Now, 14, years later, Stone is talking to Harper's Bazaar about that devastating time in her life and how it's made her stronger.
"It took two years for my body just to absorb all the internal bleeding I had," Stone told the magazine. "It almost feels like my entire DNA changed. My brain isn’t sitting where it used to, my body type changed, and even my food allergies are different."
The 57-year-old "Basic Instinct" star recalled feeling unwell for three days before going to the emergency room. As it turned out, she'd had a stroke and lost consciousness soon after being admitted.
"When I came to, the doctor was leaning over me. I said, ‘Am I dying?’" Stone remembered. "And he said, ‘You’re bleeding into your brain.’ I said, ‘I should call my mom,’ and he said, ‘You’re right. You could lose the ability to speak soon.'"
Stone fought to regain her speech, her vision and feeling in her left leg.
But not all the effects of the stroke were bad.
"I became more emotionally intelligent," Stone said. "I chose to work very hard to open up other parts of my mind. Now I’m stronger. And I can be abrasively direct. That scares people, but I think that’s not my problem. It’s like, I have brain damage; you’ll just have to deal with it."
Another thing Stone doesn't worry about is aging.
"I’m aware that my a** looks like a bag of flapjacks but I’m not trying to be the best-looking broad in the world," said the actress, who posed nude in the magazine.
"At a certain point you start asking yourself, ‘What really is sexy?’ It’s not just the elevation of your boobs. It’s being present and having fun and liking yourself enough to like the person that’s with you. If I believed that sexy was trying to be who I was when I did 'Basic Instinct,' then we’d all be having a hard day today."
One area she'd like to improve: her love life.
"I never get asked out," she admitted. "It’s so stupid. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been getting more brazen with flirting, but I don’t think men realize that I’m flirting. They just think, Oh, she’s fun!'"