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She's a South Florida stroke unit nurse. This is what happened when she suffered one on the job.

South Florida stroke unit nurse never thought she would be a patient herself
South Florida stroke unit nurse never thought she would be a patient herself 02:58

MIAMI — May is National Stroke Awareness Month. A stroke can either involve a blockage of blood flow or bleeding in your brain.

One local nurse knows all about the signs and symptoms, but even she didn't expect to become a patient herself.

Meisha McIntosh is a registered nurse at Baptist Hospital's Hope Tower on the "Stroke Floor".

Earlier this year, she was tending to a patient in room 4526.

"I went to document on my patients and someone had said that my patient was trying to get up and I went to go and assess the situation. And then the next thing I knew I was on the floor," McIntosh explained.

"Every time I go in the room, walk past the room, I think of the same, like it, it plays in my head," added April Elam, an environmental technician at the hospital.

Elam was also in the room, just doing her job of cleaning up when Nurse Meisha collapsed.

"I was like, 'Meisha, Meisha, are you ok? Are you ok?'" Elam recalled. "She just was looking around — she would never respond to me."

"She caught me actually, which is pretty amazing because if she hadn't caught me, I wouldn't been able to get the thrombolytic or the clot buster so to speak," McIntosh explained. "Because if I'd fallen hit in my head, there would have been a risk for me to bleed."

What is an ischemic stroke? 

The 35-year-old suffered an ischemic stroke, which is when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed.

Looking back, she says she had all the signs — facial droop, right-side weakness, and slurred speech.

"One of the things that we try to educate the community on is the acronym FAST, fast means F for face, A for the arms, S for speech and T for time.," said Dr. Guilherme Dabus, the co-director of Interventional Neuroradiology at Baptist Health's Neuroscience Institute.

He was part of the team that treated Nurse Meisha and said time is of the essence when responding to a stroke.

"I can say this with like 95% confidence that either she would be dead or severely disabled for the rest of her life," Dr. Dabus said. "The longer you wait, more brain damage will happen because that blood is not getting to that brain."

Meisha made a full recovery and says her experience has made her even better at her job.

She can now relate to her patients on a personal level and her bond with her coworkers runs deeper than ever.

"That was definitely weird being on the other side of things," McIntosh said. "I just want to thank my coworkers so much.

I'm eternally grateful to them for everything that they did for me, for taking care of me, for being so attentive. And being so caring."

Nurse Meisha says she has a history of high blood pressure, which is a common risk factor for stroke.

Other risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol and being sedentary. Doctors stress that's why it's important to keep your cardiovascular health in check. 

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