Joe Swash is best known for his cheeky, bubbly persona, but the star, who is currently competing in Dancing on Ice, has taken a much more serious tone in the past when speaking about his battle with meningitis. In 2005, the EastEnders actor was struck down by the life-threatening illness, resulting in him being rushed to the hospital. The father-of-two was visiting family at the time.
Speaking to News of the World more than ten years ago, the doting dad explained: "I was certain I'd die. My head hurt so much I wanted the nurses to cut it off." Speaking about his symptoms, the 38-year-old continued: "I knew something was wrong and it could kill me. I was sure I'd suffered a stroke because my body was numb. Then the headaches started and I thought it was something much worse. I've never felt pain like it."
Joe spoke frankly about falling seriously ill
He continued: "I couldn't feel the left side of my body. It was numb. I tried wiggling my toes and my legs. My arm felt like it was sagging, almost hanging off my body. Then I tried to move my mouth and felt sheer terror come over me - I couldn't move my lips."
The star shares many adorable snaps of his son Rex
Terrifyingly, the actor thought he'd never be able to work again, believing he had lost the ability to talk forever. Joe elaborated: "Because of the numbness my first thought was that I'd had a stroke. My second thought was that I couldn't work again. I've spent half my life trying to be an actor and I work on a show that I love. I felt it had all slipped away because I'd now lost the most important thing you need to be an actor - the ability to talk. It was terrifying. I've never been that scared before."
Fortunately, after a short stay in the hospital, Joe recovered and was able to return to work.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.