Lynn Holly–Johnson a Stroke Survivor

By on February 1, 2014

By Mike Pingel –

For over three years, Lynn Holly-Johnson has struggled to reclaim her brain and hopes her story 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 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 non-sensical, 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, everyday.  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 Year,  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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5 Comments

  1. Lisa Whitt

    October 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I’m a stroke surviver as well. Reading her story really has really made me admire her even more! It hasn’t been easy for sure! Its been a huge struggle since, husband had back surgery a yr later then they let him go after that. You really give me hope,reading your story! I will never be able to have kids but I have a chocolate lab that has been my child! He has given me a lot of strength too! Glad your doing well, you really have come along way! Thank you, Lisa

  2. T C Mitchell Jr

    October 17, 2015 at 2:01 am

    I will always remember you in a movie Ice Castle that touched my mind, my emotions and my ❤. You should have won an Oscar for your acting and performance. Every time I watch it, it moves me. Thank you so much. I love you for it. There was so much love and caring and support in that movie and shows forth the power of love over every situation, obstacles and circumstances. Thank you. Stay Positive and never give up nor give in. Thank you for standing up for something against your morals. I love you for that and I’m proud of you. Believe that you will be healed. Faith will heal you.

  3. Mary Wier

    March 25, 2016 at 5:04 am

    Dear Holly. Tonite I watch Ice Castles that meant so much to me after our 13 year old son passed in 77 so I looked you up on the Web and found your real life storyy and also Robbys life and I am so grateful for the Ice Castles movie and that you. And Robby are with us. Still inspired by the movie???????????????? let me know if you would like a copy of my children’s book. Soolis Magic Christmas about a bluebird that loves decorating her nest. I would be honored to send you a copy. I live in Chattanooga My pc e mail is. listed above. Thanks .

  4. Gary

    June 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Lynn Holly;

    You’re more than an inspiration. You’re an ICON for all that is right in this world. We spoke briefly years ago when I was in Colorado.(You may not remember)
    I’m also an actor who had to at times say, No, I won’t do that. Bless you Lynn,
    an have a long and happy life. I will always love Ice Castles and you.

  5. David Hunziker

    August 27, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Lynn,
    2 years ago I was working at Dulles Airport for Customs Border Protection. I was on break and had a stroke due to AFIB which I was warned 1 year earlier to get ablation and see cardiologist, however being an EMT and Bio in college I was in complete denial and scared, never called 911 was diagnosed 6 weeks later had ablation last May seem to be in sinus rhythm for the future, however am completely numb in the face left arm left leg, has caused acne on face when I never had it in my life now I am 57, You rocked in For Your eyes I snow ski also loved your freestyle on the powder. We have suffered a huge hit but have survived the odds my stroke was 70% fatal, I cherish every day and my family even though it has changed me forever. Keep reading and moving I am finishing up Associates in Homeland Security this semester.

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Lynn Holly–Johnson a Stroke Survivor