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23-year-old woman struck by lightning at Country Thunder continues her recovery

Posted at 7:16 AM, May 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-15 23:54:04-04

She may live in Illinois, but Brittney Prehn loves her Green Bay Packers. She also loves country music.

It was at Country Thunder Music Festival in Kenosha County last summer that Brittney got hit by lightning. We've been following her story now for nearly a year. While she's made great strides since we first met her, as Susan Kim explains, she's also coping with new problems.

Brittney and her Great Dane, Dozer, are rarely apart. He's helped her get better physically and emotionally.

We first met the 23-year-old in September, just two months after lightning struck her at Country Thunder. The bolt hit her on the right side of her head, traveled through her body and went out her foot.

She tells us she is doing better. Her panic attacks are not as bad, and she is walking better.

Brittney also says "storms don't bother me as much anymore because I was driving in one the other day and it wasn't so bad. But I won't be caught walking out there."

In addition to driving now, Brittney can hear better, too, with a new hearing aid and cochlear implant. The implant surgery may have saved her life.

She says when she went in for the surgery to put the implant in, doctors "found a bunch of spinal fluid leaking, which we knew about some of them, but not all of them. I don't have an ear hole anymore. They closed it. They didn't want spinal fluid to leak out. They also closed my nose canal, one of them."

Brittney's also dealing with new challenges. Shortly after our first interview, her family learned she doesn't remember much from before the lightning strike and also has some short-term memory loss.

Brittney says "there are times I walk out of the house with a dog and no leash, or a leash and no dog."

Susan asked Brittney if she remembers doing an interview with TODAY'S TMJ4 in September. Brittney says only through pictures.

And so now, Brittney takes a lot of pictures and videos to help herself remember her life. One highlight includes flying to Florida last month, as a special guest of Country Thunder. She even met Toby Keith and Luke Bryan.

"Luke Bryan was on the stage, we were on the walkway stage and he flicked his guitar picks. We were pretty far away from him and I caught it in my hearing aid!" Brittney says.

Susan asked if she remembers what the stars said to her.

Brittney says, "Luke Bryan made a joke out of it. What are the odds of getting hit by lightning? It was kind of weird them knowing who I was."

Through it all, Brittney's mom and doctors continue to be amazed by her recovery.

Lisa Prehn told Susan, "she's baffled the medical experts and we have some that come in that we've never met and they want to come in and shake her hand and meet her."

Brittney's life now also includes driving 4.5 hours a couple of times a month to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She meets with specialists such as neurologists, speech and physical therapists.

To help her stay positive, her friends put this reminder on her truck: Stronger Than Lightning. Brittney still plans to attend Country Thunder again this summer and to even meet the young woman who found her the night she was struck.

There is a GoFundMe account for Brittney.