Heisman Moments of Faith

March 9, 2024 – A Heisman Moment of Faith

Ever since I had a massive heart attack on January 9, 2013, while attending a professional development conference in Montreal, God has used health challenges to bring me into sacred moments with Him.

Similar to having a last-minute score to win a game that turns into a Heisman moment for a college football player, there are sometimes moments in our lives that define a season or bring out the true character of a person. As far as our relationship with God, there are sacred moments that attest to the constant power and presence of God’s Spirit to show us that we are loved no matter how dire our situation may seem.

These near-death experiences have been neither joyful nor pleasant, yet they have provided experiences of profound awareness of God’s nearness and accessibility. No matter how scary our situation, we have access to God because of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God who resides in the heart of those who trust him with their lives.

So, on Saturday afternoon on March 9th, Jenny and I were watching a British crime investigation series in our family room. I had been sick on and off for a couple of weeks with a cold and a sinus infection. Antibiotics had alleviated the sinus pain, but I was still a little congested. I had done a home Covid test a couple of days before that was negative.

I started feeling warm and changed from a long sleeve shirt to a short sleeve. I continued to feel warm and said to Jenny that I thought I needed to go to the hospital and get checked out. Within a matter of minutes, I began to feel worse and started to have some difficulty breathing. Jenny asked if I wanted her to call 9-1-1 or drive me to the Emory ER. I asked her to call 9-1-1. I tried to check my blood pressure but kept getting an error message. I put a fingertip pulse oximeter on my finger and the reading was in the 80s and dropping.

I was gasping for breath as Jenny was on the phone with the emergency operator. As happens with respiratory failure, I was trying to cough up anything while gasping for breath. Once the EMS and Dekalb Fire and Rescue were on their way, I was gasping for another breath. Jenny had her arms around me asking God to help me breathe. On three different occasions, I felt the life going out of my legs and arms. Should I pass out and succumb? As Jenny was praying, the chaos inside me was like radio static. Then, there was a second of silence as the Holy Spirit was listening to her prayer. Again, I felt my life slipping away, then, a pause and there was silence. The chaos paused. The Spirit of love was stopping the life from flowing out and was keeping me awake. She continued to pray. Our son Jed had run across the street to our neighbor who is an interventional cardiologist to see if he could help. He was not home. I was sitting on the floor in the family room pounding on the floor and the couch in frustration of not being able to breathe. I was holding on by Jenny’s prayers and similar to focusing on taking one more step while running a race, I kept taking one more gasp of air to keep from passing out. I kept just taking one more breath. Feeling Jenny’s love and feeling that God was near kept me going.

In the distance, we heard the sirens. Jenny said that the EMT’s were about to arrive. She went and opened the door to our family room and returned to hold me. Shortly, there were two firemen and two EMTs coming to my aid. Initially, they hooked up a small duo canula, but SP02 was still in 50s. Switched to a larger CPAP mask and breathing continued with crackles but was stable enough to transport. EMS took me to the emergency department at Emory Hospital Decatur. One of the firemen circled back to our house to tell Jenny where they were taking me. Even with the oxygen support, I was gasping for every breath. How had this happened so quickly? Upon arrival, the medical team switched my oxygen support to a bi-pap machine, injected Lasix via I-V and monitored my breathing. For the next hour, the discussion was around whether I could continue to process my own breathing or if I needed intubation and a ventilator. I continued to want to breathe myself. The staff glued on a condom catheter with the hope that the Lasix would begin to lower the fluid levels in my lungs. An x-ray had show substantial fluid in both lungs.

Jenny had arrived at the ER and was sitting beside my bed holding my hand.

My troponin heart protein was normal, so the doctor overseeing my care did not suspect heart attack. I had recently had a non-semi heart attack on November 18, 2023, that led to a catheterization that showed no blockages. Also, white blood count was normal so there was a lower suspicion of pneumonia. At some point, I gave the doctor a thumbs up indicating that my breathing was improving and there was no need for intubation. I felt that as long as I was conscious and could handle one breath at a time, then I did not need a ventilator. My blood oxygen levels were still abnormal, as were my blood gas levels. I was urinating, and that, along with the need for continued Lasix and oxygen support, I would be admitted to an ICU if they could find a room for me. This is during a pretty brutal flu season and Emory Decatur had no ICU rooms available. The doctor came by and said that she had found a room at an Emory hospital in Lithonia. Jenny said, “Lithonia? Are there any rooms available at Clifton?”

Jenny advocated for a Clifton Road room because of proximity to most of my doctors. Shortly, the doctor returned and said, “Your prayers for a Clifton Road room have been answered.” At this point it’s around 1:00 AM Sunday on the morning when we were about to “Spring forward.”

So, a call was put into the EMS to request a truck to take me to Clifton Road and a room in the ICU. As we waited, I continued to work for each breath and encouraged Jenny to go home and rest since the ambulance was on its way to transport me.

I arrived at my room in the ICU when it had just become 3:00 AM with the time change from 2:00 to 3:00. Testing and observation continued. They did a series of tests for flu, Covid, pneumonia and RSV. They expected to be able to eliminate those, but instead I was positive for COVID 19. Consequently, that meant that I had to be moved to a new ICU floor and my treatment would now become two-fold. I would now be on the hospital regime of drugs for COVID and continue on oxygen and Lasix for the respiratory failure. It didn’t take long to find me a new room in an ICU on the other side of the hospital.

I want to pause at this point to reflect on those anxious moments when Jenny had eyes of faith praying on my behalf when others may have given up. I felt like the paralytic whose friends carried him to Jesus or Lazarus whose sisters begged Jesus to come and heal their dying brother. There are many stories of people interceding with Jesus on behalf of others. There was a holy conversation taking place in the midst of chaos. And the Holy Spirit heard the prayer of his dear one asking for help. Over the past few weeks, I have come back to that few moments on several occasions and thanked God for hearing and holding us.

Published by

Jimmy Locklear

One seeking to live from his heart as a follower of Jesus. Son, husband, father, friend. Writer, marketing and fundraising strategist. Veteran of corporate, agency, and high impact organizations.