Lynn Holly–Johnson a Stroke Survivor

By on February 1, 2014
Stroke

For over three years, Lynn Holly-Johnson has struggled to reclaim her brain and hopes her story of surviving a stroke saves others. 

On January 2010, actress and figure skater, Lynn Holly-Johnson (Ice Castles, For Your Eyes Only) was on a flight back to Newport Beach when her brain started suffocating.   During the flight, they said she had hiccups but unknown to everyone was the fact that she had a hole in the heart and three blood clots shot through her heart and lodged into her brain blocking blood flow and oxygen. Indeed, she was suffering a stroke.

Lynn lost control of her body, all motor skills including the balance to walk, usage of her arms and completely unable to form sentences or even intelligible words.

Nearly incoherent, she was rushed to Hoag Hospital.  One blood clot was found in the middle cerebral artery, which can be fatal and two blood clots were lodged on the left side of her brain.  Dr. David Brown, Medical Director for Hoag’s Stroke Program, had to carefully decide on whether or not to inject TPA, the drug which dissolves blood clots.  TPA is only safe when given within 4.5 hours of the onset of stroke, beyond that it would have killed her.

After 10 crucial hours Lynn-Holly finally spoke words, they were nonsensical, saying, “it is 1964” but the doctors knew she was out of the woods and now a Stroke Survivor.

One week later, she could still only stay awake for three hours at a time. She did not know what happened the day before or even one hour before. Lynn-Holly did not know her birthday, her kid’s birthdays or her phone number or address. She could not finish sentences or even find the simplest words. She even blurted words out of context.

Yet, Lynn-Holly fought off depression and anger, even though she thought her mind was gone for good. For the next entire year, she was in cognitive therapy, 4 hours, every day.  She felt like she was in school.

The neurological damage from a stroke can drastically change a person’s demeanor.  The “school” was challenging and aggravating.  Gratefully she had her husband and her children to help her find the power to follow through each day.

Lynn-Holly had the heart surgery to repair the PFO, (patent foramen ovale), the tiny hole that caused all of this. About 25% of the population might have this opening. But in most people, the PFO is not dangerous and closes during childhood.

Today her neurologist has told her she has reached a plateau. Still, she studies math and science on her own to keep forcing her brain into recalling the past. Proudly being a Stroke Survivor, Lynn-Holly is a spokesperson for The American Heart Association, with the hope by sharing her story, she will help others to understand stroke and its prevention.

Lynn Johnson image icecastlesLynn Holly-Johnson is a National Freestyle Champion and won the silver medal at the 1974 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.  After she retired from competition, she joined the “Ice Capades.”

Johnson made her Hollywood debut in the 1978 film Ice Castles, opposite Robby Benson where she played a figure skater who has an accident and becomes partially blind.  Lynn-Holly was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as “New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Female” for her performance in the film.

She then took on the role of Bond Girl in the hit 1981 hit “For Your Eyes Only.”  She portrayed, Bibi Dahl an energetic, head-strong, aggressive teenager who, oddly, unsuccessfully tries to seduce James Bond (Roger Moore).

Johnson went on to star in 15 other feature films including The Watcher in the Woods (with Bette Davis), Where The Boys Are ’84 and The Falling.

She left show business to focus on family and help her husband raise their two children, Kellen-Dane and Jensie.

Mike Pingel, writer, actor, and publicist graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. He resides in West Hollywood, CA.  He has written six books, Betty White Rules the World, Angelic Heaven: The Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing; Wonder Woman,  Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After all these Years,  Works of Pingel.   Pingel has made appearances on Inside Edition, E! Entertainment, A&E.  He was also seen on Marc Anthony music video “Ahora Quien” and Farrah Fawcett’s “Chasing Farrah”.

 

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Lynn Holly–Johnson a Stroke Survivor