Pauley Perrette Reveals How She First Realized She Was Having a Stroke and What Saved Her Life (Exclusive)

'I woke up and had no feeling on the entire right side of my body,' the former 'NCIS' star tells ET.

Pauley Perrette is looking back on a terrifying health crisis in the hopes of spreading awareness. 

The 53-year-old former NCIS star recently revealed that she suffered a "massive stroke" last year and now, she's opening up about exactly what happened. 

"I woke up and had no feeling on the entire right side of my body," she tells ET's Kevin Frazier. "At first I thought I had just slept funny. When I kept realizing the extent of the numbness; couldn’t feel my finger touching my face, couldn’t feel my face being touched by my finger, couldn’t feel my laptop sitting on my lap, no feeling at all on the right hand side -- I could have burned myself or cut my finger off and wouldn’t have known -- I called my doctor and he said, 'GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY.'"

Perrette says she was reluctant to follow his advice initially, saying that she had a phone therapy appointment later that day. Her therapist is also a neurologist, she noted, so she'd wait to see what he said. 

Her doctor assured her that if she lived until 5 p.m., which he said was doubtful, the neurologist would tell her the same thing: to get to the emergency department immediately. 

"Walked into the ER and said, 'Hey, I can’t feel the right hand side of my body and…' BAM! OMG! I was on a gurney with a million things stuck in my arms and a bunch of medical people rushing me somewhere," she recalls. "They know how serious a stroke is and how immediate care is imperative."

Perrette was admitted to the hospital stroke ward and therapy checked for everything from speech to mobility. She says that although she faced a few months of "lingering effects," she "fared quite well" due to seeking immediate medical care. 

"I am totally OK now," she adds, "and really want people to get educated about all signs of a stroke, especially that you can have one at any age! By knowing signs of a stroke, we can save ourselves and others." 

For anyone seeking additional information, Perrette suggests visiting