ABC News’ Cecilia Vega and Larry Dechant report:
As a morning meteorologist at KABC in Los Angeles, Bri Winkler’s job is to keep residents informed about the latest weather affecting their city.
But what most viewers don’t know is that two years ago, on Sept. 12, 2012, when ABC7′s Winkler was just 24, she had a stroke.
“I couldn’t even let it process I was having a stroke,” she told ABC News. “I didn’t even know what that meant.”
After setting her alarm for 5 a.m. to exercise on her day off, Winkler says she thought she was fainting.
“The numbness went down to my face and down to my arm and my leg,” she said. “And when I went to stand I really couldn’t, so then I had to get on the floor and crawl.”
Winkler says the entire left side of her body went completely numb.
“I went to put on my workout shirt and that’s when I lost hearing in my right ear and that is when it spread,” Winkler explained. “The next you know, I couldn’t walk.”
Doctors say strokes are unusual in young people, but they do happen.
“Malcom in the Middle” star, Frankie Muniz, suffered his first stroke at 26, and had another a year later.
“Something was not right,” Muniz, now 28, said. “I knew I didn’t feel right. I couldn’t say words and I thought I was saying them, and my fiancée was looking at me as if I were speaking a foreign language.”
Muniz had what is called a “mini stroke,” when blood temporarily stops reaching the brain.
In Winkler’s case, doctors found a blood clot in her brain.
“Young people often don’t recognize the stroke symptoms because they can’t imagine that this would be happening to them, and because of that, they don’t seek medical attention,” said Dr. Arbi Ohanian, a neurologist at Huntington Memorial Hospital where Winkler was treated.
“Of course it is shocking. I was so young,” said Winkler, adding however, “I do view it as a positive thing in my life because I do appreciate everything a lot more.”
Winkler is not only back at work giving her forecasts, but is also now sharing a story that she hopes encourages others to be on the lookout for signs of a stroke, no matter their age.
“From here on out, I just want to spread awareness as much as possible,” she said.