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'Words just wouldn’t come': Oklahoma news anchor describes on-air medical emergency

Julie Chin said doctors think her symptoms were "the beginnings of a stroke."

TULSA, Okla. — Everything was going normally for Tulsa news anchor Julie Chin as she covered NASA's now-delayed moon rocket launch. But in a matter of minutes, something else took center stage for NBC affiliate station KJRH: A medical emergency.

Trying to announce a local event connected to the launch, Chin struggled to complete a sentence, repeating words and appearing confused. 

"I’m sorry," she said before having the cameras cut to the station's meteorologist. "Something is going on with me this morning, and I apologize to everybody."

Something was going on, Chin revealed the next day — a medical emergency. 

"The past few days are still a little bit of a mystery, but my doctors believe I had the beginnings of a stroke live on the air Saturday morning," Chin wrote Sunday on Facebook. 

She said the on-camera confusion was only part of her symptoms, all of which set in within several minutes. 

"First, I lost partial vision in one eye. A little bit later my hand and arm went numb. Then, I knew I was in big trouble when my mouth would not speak the words that were right in front of me on the teleprompter," Chin wrote. "If you were watching Saturday morning, you know how desperately I tried to steer the show forward, but the words just wouldn’t come."

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Chin thanked her coworkers, who saw her symptoms Saturday and quickly called 911. She also thanked the first responders and medical professionals who helped her, though exactly what happened was still unclear. 

"At this point, Doctors think I had the beginnings of a stroke, but not a full stroke," she wrote. "There are still lots of questions, and lots to follow up on, but the bottom line is I should be just fine." 

The Mayo Clinic says quick treatment is crucial for patients having a stroke — brain cells can die in minutes when blood supply is blocked or restricted. Symptoms include trouble speaking and understanding others, paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, and problems with eyesight. 

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"Call 911 or your local emergency number right away," the Mayo Clinic's website says. "Don't wait to see if symptoms stop. Every minute counts."

Chin said she's learned it's not always obvious when someone is having a stroke. She shared the BE FAST acronym of areas where symptoms can hit: Balance, eyes, face, arms and speech, with the final letter referring to time — a crucial element in stroke treatment. 

KJRH said many viewers have reached out to ask about Chin's condition. The station shared her update on Facebook and said coworkers are "wishing her the best on her road to recovery and well-deserved rest."

Chin said she has more testing to do as her medical team searches for answers. 

"In a few days, I’ll be back at the desk sharing the stories I love with the community I love," she wrote. "Thank you all for loving me and supporting me so well."

   

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