Sacred Heart Attack 2: Rehab – Chapter 8 – Health by the Numbers

After my cardiology exam, Dr. Jaber asked me to take my blood pressure at least twice a day for a week to see how effective the newly prescribed BP meds were. Then, I was to call his nurse, Randy, and report my numbers.

Date                           BP               Pulse                         Time                     Side

1/19/13 123/80 69 11:15 AM Right arm
1/20/13 120/75 68 11:28 AM Left arm
1/21/13 105/70 62 10:30 AM Right arm
1/22/13 112/78 63 11:00 AM Left arm
1/23/13 113/77 63 10:55 AM Right arm
1/23/13 129/79 70 5:43 PM Left arm
1/24/13 117/84 66 9:49 AM Right arm
1/24/13 112/81 69 9:55 AM Left arm

After I shared these numbers with Randy, he said, “You can’t get better than that. Please go ahead and phase in the new meds as Dr. Jaber prescribed and let me know if you have any problems. Otherwise, we’ll see you in a month.”

That all sounded good to me. I had worked out a plan for taking certain pills in the morning and two others at night. Since there was one of the blood pressure prescriptions that included one pill in the morning and one at night, my one dose of 80mg. of Lipitor at night, too. Having two pills to take at night would make it easier to remember. I used a weekly organizer to take six pills every morning and the two before bedtime.

My blood pressure on January 29th was 105/68 and on January 30th it was 100/63 and my pulse was 67. As the medicine synced with my body, my numbers found a plateau in a pretty low range. A level I hadn’t seen in decades! This was the range that Dr. Jaber wanted for healing and reducing stress on my heart and the stents which needed six weeks to settle into my arteries. All of this would serve me well as I eventually began to do some exercising.

Chapter 5 – Meeting My Cardiologist – Friday January 18, 2013

Since leaving the hospital in Montreal, I had adopted the meal menu that was provided for me while I was in the Cardiac Care Unit after my heart attack. So, breakfast included a cup of coffee, two slices of whole grain toast with a little orange marmalade or honey. I also had a glass of juice and yogurt or a bowl of cereal would round out my meal. So, on the morning of my first meeting with my new cardiologist, I ate and then took about eight pills and dressed for an early morning appointment.

Jenny drove us to downtown Atlanta to Emory Midtown Hospital at 550 Peachtree Street and dropped at the entrance. We were familiar with the hospital because our son Jed had had corrective jaw surgery there in July of 2012. After she parked the car in the deck and came into the lobby, we made our way to the elevator and to the cardiology department on the sixth floor.

We carried a fat grey envelope of papers and two DVDs from Sacred Heart Hospital. These materials documented my stay and the two angioplasty procedures done by Dr. Thierry Charon. Dr. Guy Lalonde had translated the summary report into English, but everything else was in French. The envelope also included a list of the medicines Dr. Lalonde had prescribed for the next 12 months.

We handed the packet to the check-in person in exchange for several forms and check lists that I had to complete before seeing the doctor. One of the first jarring experiences was checking the “Coronary Artery Disease” box on the “Current Conditions” section. The form asked, “The Reason for My Visit Today?” I answered with, “A heart attack nine days ago.”

Disbelief still rolled around my brain from time to time and I was experiencing a bit of it this morning.

Soon a nurse invited us to an examining room. My weight was down to 196 from the fluid exaggerated 210 that I weighed before being discharged from the hospital in Montreal on Monday.

“Why are you here today?” the nurse asked.

“I had a heart attack last week in Montreal and I need a cardiologist here in Atlanta,” I said.

“Oh! Bless your heart,” she said. “How are you feeling.”

There was that question again. It would often leave me slow to speak as my mind went in a dozen directions as I decided what to say in response. “I’m feeling pretty good, but I have this cough that I think is an allergic reaction to some of the new meds I’m taking.”

“I’m sure Dr. Jaber can help with that,” she said.

My temperature and blood pressure were good at 97.9 and 121/80, respectively.

jaber-wissamMeeting Dr. Wissam Jaber was enjoyable. He struck me as serious, but not intense with a good sense of humor. Around 40-years-old, I’d guess, wearing a dress shirt and tie under his white jacket, dark trousers and very stylish light brown shoes. I believe I had mentioned before that he was Mediterranean and went to medical school at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. He also did work at Duke and the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Jaber said that the Montreal doctors had done a very good job and everything looked good on the two stents that were inserted. He said that two or three other arteries that were marked as 30% blocked were a little “wobbly” but of no real concern and may not even be 30% obstructed. We talked about doing some blood work next week and an echo cardiogram stress test on February 22, 2013, before my six-weeks appointment. He said that at six-weeks the stents should be well connected in my arteries, but that I needed to stay on the blood thinner Effient® for twelve months.

He said that the benazepril in one of the blood pressure meds was causing my cough and he would change my prescriptions to alleviate the problem. He said that it could take 2-4 weeks to get it out of my system. He asked me to take my BP at home twice a day for a week and call his nurse Randy with a report to verify that the dosage was correct. Also, I should continue to take the fluid pill for a few more weeks, but my lungs appeared clear today.

I felt well cared for. Hearing confirmation of the treatment I received in Montreal and the likelihood of ending my cough by changing two of my meds gave me peace of mind and spirit. With Jenny there being able to ask questions and hear what I was hearing was an added comfort. All of this was also reminding me that God’s mercy was specific and his love was patient and kind. He would sustain me as days of light and dark would follow in the future. And I was realizing that my acceptance of this new reality would take many weeks to settle in.

Jenny and I walked to the hospital coffee shop and had a cup of Joe and shared a bagel. We reviewed what we had heard and made sure that we were in sync regarding next appointments and early rehab – which primarily meant rest.

I waited in the lobby while Jenny walked to the parking structure to get the car. She met me at the door and drove us to the pharmacy and then home.

My cardiac rehab story… Chapter 2 – Sweet Sleep. NOT.

[I won’t be posting multiple chapters on most days, but I have a bit of a backlog as I’ve written eleven chapters and just started posting them this week. And Chapter 1 was another intro of sorts. Anyway, here you are.]

Initially, I was lying in bed propped up as if in a hospital bed. When my mouth was closed my breathing would slow and I felt anxious – afraid that my breathing would stop. What made this scary was my appreciation of the fact that what I was experiencing was mechanical and not psychosomatic. I wasn’t imaging that my breathing was slowing; it was slowing.

Of course, this was complicated with my knowledge that there was still some excess fluid still resident in my lungs. During and after my heart attack, my heart had been less efficient moving my blood through my lungs and the heart chambers. This led to a build up of fluid in the lower part of the lungs. I was taking Furosemide (Lasix) which is known as a “water pill” to aid in reducing the fluid in the body that had build up due to heart failure. So, I was taking 20 mg per day which meant I was making more trips to the bathroom, but I was breathing better. The end did justify the means in this case.

Eventually, I gave up on the bed and tried the recliner in Justin’s room, but that was more similar to a bed than a chair. I was beginning to see that any time my posture was slumping toward reclining that there was added pressure on my breathing. I suppose my hunt became a bit like the story of “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” when Goldie was trying to find a “just right” bed to sleep in. And, like Goldie, my third try was successful.

The chair in our den where I ended up sleeping.
The chair in our den where I ended up sleeping.

I ended up in our den sitting in a winged-back Princess Anne leather chair with a pillow on each side of my lower torso and leaning my head against a “wing” of the chair. This is similar to how I had slept the previous night in our hotel room in Montreal.

While learning to give thanks to God’s Spirit for the comfort and healing being wrought in my body, I wondered anew what all of this meant for my life expectancy, my vocation and my family. Taking my anxiety to God refreshed me enough to allow few sweet hours of sleep. I was so glad to have been given the gifts of intimacy and prayer that had grown in my relationship with God over the past few years. I don’t know how I would’ve survived those times of solitude before we fall asleep at night and are tempted to worry and loose perspective. Understanding that our monologues can be dialogues with our Creator gives oxygen to our metaphorical hearts that is just as vital as the O2 that our physical heart and brain needs. Being reminded that I am part of a larger story is a comfort that resonates deep within my soul.

Sacred Journey: Heart and Soul Rehabilitation. Chapter 1 – January 15, 2013

While Jenny drove Jameson back to the airport, I started thinking about being home and the profound gratitude I felt for God, Jenny and Jameson. I was particularly thankful that nothing crazy happened in our return flight from Montreal.

This was the morning of January 15, 2013 as I sat in a wheelchair at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport waiting for our flight to Atlanta.
This was the morning of January 15, 2013 as I sat in a wheelchair at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport waiting for our flight to Atlanta.

So, I could report to Dr. Guy Lalonde – the cardiologist who oversaw my care at Sacred Heart Hospital of Montreal after my heart attack on January 9, 2013 – that we had a smooth experience returning to Atlanta and my house and bed. And by bed I meant one of our beds, chairs or couches.

You see, I had two anxieties staring me in the face: 1) Would I be able to sleep and rest? 2) How soon could I get in to see a cardiologist to change my blood pressure medicine that contained benazepril that was causing me to cough? You see, while in the hospital in Montreal I had forgotten that I was allergic to benazepril. I had discovered this a couple of years ago when my internist at the Emory Clinic had prescribed some blood pressure medicine for me and I developed a cough. This was in my file at Emory Healthcare, but not in my brain’s memory file when I was asked “Are you allergic to anything?” by the Sacred Heart nurses and doctors.

It had been several years since I had been examined by a cardiologist, so, one of the first orders of business would be to let my primary care physician, Dr. Donald Davis, know what had happened. I would ask him for a referral to an Emory cardiologist who could see me as soon as possible.

Of course, there was also the lingering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms that tended to add a layer of urgency to everything I thought or felt.

As I pondered what the rest of the week might look like, I began to realize that I was tired and sleep deprived.

I got up from the dining room table and slowly walked upstairs to our son Justin’s room where I’d likely sleep tonight. Justin lives in Dallas, so his room was available. I pulled the bedspread and sheet back and then went to gather some pillow options for putting together something to simulate a hospital bed, albeit much softer and more comfortable.

I walked back downstairs and took the three pills that were part of my daily regime. At the same time, I was pretty sure that one of these pills was propagating my persistent cough. The dry cough would become a governor to my conversations over the next few weeks and it could’ve been avoided had my memory been sharper a few days earlier. These kinds of “if only” questions can paralyze us if we let them. I’m not above feeling some regret about past mistakes or poor choices, but it would become clear that timing was critical in my cardiologist choice and I may not have reached out for help with such a sense of urgency had I not had this allergic reaction to the benazepril. So, perhaps we will see if my memory lapse doesn’t have a positive result in the days ahead.

Sacred Journey: Heart and Soul Rehabilitation. Prologue


The official publication date of “Sacred Heart Attack | Sacrée Crise Cardiaque” (WestBow Press, 2013) was July 15, 2013. The book chronicled my experience of surviving a major heart attack while visiting Montreal, QC., Canada in January of 2013.

I had written the 108-page book over a two-month period while recovering from the heart event and beginning my cardiac rehabilitation. About the same time, I finished another manuscript I had worked on for a couple of years. And “Heart Journey: Following Jesus to the Heart of God” (WestBow Press, 2013) was published in September. It seemed that my heart attack had been a catalyst to more seriously listen to God’s call to me to write about my experience of God in everyday life.

Consequently, I began working on other ideas for books that I had mused about over the years. I was interested in writing on solitude and I had always had an idea to write a novel on my experience in the computer software business in the 1980s and 1990s. Those writing projects were a bit uninspired for me and were moving slowly.

The cost of my heart attack had been significant. First, I had strict orders from my Canadian and American doctors not to work for 30 days. This hampered my consulting work in a significant way and by May, two of my three clients did not renew their contracts with me.

Over the summer, I was immersed in publishing both of my books and decided to do a kickstarter project to help with funding. These were eventually successful projects, but took a great deal of my time and energy to accomplish. It was, then, not a huge surprise on Tuesday night August, 27, 2013, that I said to God, “My life is painful right now.”

What was a surprise was God’s reply, “Why aren’t you writing about it?”

Wow. I knew exactly what he meant. The reason that so many of my friends and family had responded positively to my short essays about my heart attack that formed the basis of the book “Sacred Heart Attack” was the personal nature of my sharing with which they identified. Many have commented that they felt like I was sitting beside them telling a story. They felt my presence in my writing.

And some readers had begun to ask me how I was doing now and was I going to write any more. The bottom line for me was that my best writing was from my own experiences. My ability to be open and honest about my experience of life and God was relatable to others.

So, the next morning I started writing this story and words flowed. I felt in the “sacred zone” again. That’s where this book came from – a midnight encounter with the Spirit of Love reminding me of my calling.

Signed copies of Heart Journey and Sacred Heart Attack available for purchase

While I’m working on a process for online ordering for signed copies of my two books, you can email me to order a signed copy.



A softcover version of Sacred Heart Attack signed by the author and mailed to you in the USA is $14.00 per copy. The hardcover version with dustcover and autographed by the author, mailed via USPS to you in the USA is $28.00. Email me at jimmy(at) for ordering information.



The prices are slightly higher for Heart Journey as the mailing costs are higher because the book is larger and heavier. So, the softcover is $15.00 and includes personalized signing by the author and mailed to you via USPS in the USA. The hardcover is $29.00 and is also signed and shipped via USPS. The hardcover is a glossy full-color finished book with no dustcover. This was designed as a devotional book you can write your own reflections in for future use. Again, just email me at jimmy(at) to learn how you can purchase your signed copy.

Of course, you can always order both books in multiple formats, including ebooks, from or or or your favorite book selling website.

Be inspired and share your story!

Dramatic Heart Attack Experience is Basis for New Book

Chattanooga native writes first-hand account of suffering a heart attack while in Montreal, QC, Canada earlier this year and will be speaking on Dec. 19 and signing copies of his books

Readers get a rare glimpse into the patient experience as Locklear shares the details of his major heart attack and treatment that saved his life in Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal. He takes you inside the operating room as he narrates what was happening as the medical team worked to save his life. 

Atlanta (December 11, 2013)– “Almost like the heart attack itself, the idea and demand for this story has been a total surprise,” said Chattanooga native Jimmy Locklear, 61, about his new book Sacred Heart Attack | Sacrée Crise Cardiaque: A Dramatic Account of an American Heart Attack Victim in Montreal (WestBow Press, 2013). “As a long-time professional writer and marketer, I had worked on book ideas before, but this was one of the easiest manuscripts that I ever attempted to write.”

Locklear will be signing copies of Sacred Heart Attack, as well as Heart Journey (his devotional book with 30 daily reflections) on Thursday December 19, 2013, at Happy Home Realty, 300 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, TN 37415, from 2:00–6:30 PM. He will also be discussing the value of journaling and writing scenes from your life. The author will be donating $1 for each book sold to the Times Free Press Neediest Cases Fund.

Approximately 1.4 million Americans experience a heart attack each year, but most of the family and friends of victims have no idea what the experience is like and what goes on in the emergency and operating rooms. Locklear tells his story with attention to detail and a combination of humorous observations and spiritual insights that makes for an amazing journey for readers. Locklear said that he wrote the book partially because of the enthusiastic response he received as he shared vignettes from his experience on his personal website. He also found the experience of writing to be helpful in dealing with the post-traumatic stress and anxiety that he and many other heart attack survivors experience.

“I have been a marathon runner, mostly healthy eater and only 60-years-old when the attack occurred. I was shocked. Shortly after returning home, I began writing a journal of my experience of the heart attack; rushing to the ER, emergency procedures to break up the 100% blocked “widow-maker” artery, and my time in the Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal. Subsequently, I began posting short chapters on my website and the response was amazing,” said Locklear.

Locklear is a graduate of Hixson High School (1970) and UTC (1976). Along with being a writer, Locklear was a public relations and marketing executive in Atlanta for over 25 years. He was in Montreal for a workshop with the international organization known as L’Arche (“the Ark” in French) that focuses on building inclusive communities where adults with disabilities play a core part. He is married and has three sons and one daughter-in-law.

Sacred Heart Attack is available at all of the major online stores including, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Contact information for review copies: Jimmy Locklear, jimmy(at)


It’s All In The Timing

Ever heard that? While being alternately a cliché and the name of a series of one act plays, timing has a profound and strategic impact on us and the world around us. In the Easter story, the ancient writings say, “At just the right time….” And when we get a call or a check in the mail or run into an old friend, we might remark that it was perfect timing.

But what about a rebuke or some discipline or reprimand? Does timing make a difference?

I think it does and I’ve had opportunity to reflect upon it in the past two days. You see, I’ve been deflecting my role in the difficulties my local church has been experiencing for the past few years. Of course, while holding the office of elder and being on various leadership and vision teams I knew that I was involved in making things better or worse. I also knew that there was plenty of responsibility shared by a large number of folks for the decisions being made or not made and the setting of an atmosphere or culture that was conducive to growth or stagnation. Personally, I was experiencing renewal in my relationship with God and was seeking to be a voice for a spiritual life of dependence, prayer and solitude.

As our crisis became more intense, I observed an attitude of humility and sorrowfulness. But I had difficulty entering into those places. I believed that much of our difficulty was because we were too busy and living from our false selves pretending to be people that we weren’t. I certainly was quick to critique others’ critiques. Most of us are pretty good at finding things to be critical of. After all, we are highly educated and Western educational institutions are built upon the idea of proving your intellectual acumen through criticism. Certainly, the highest levels of literature (my specialty) include the art of critiquing the writings of others.

So, we carry that into other parts of our lives. I show my worth, value through criticizing you. What a miserable prospect.

This past Sunday when our pastor was preaching from 1st Corinthians 3:1-10 on “The Price of Immaturity,” he said, “This has been an unstable church acting immaturely.”

It was a fist to the gut for me. I felt stung and ashamed. And for the first time, I received this critique fully. I was knocked off of my pedestal. I asked God for guidance as I was seeking to repent and agree.

Thus, the timing was right and I am in a new place concerning my role as an elder and teacher. I’m not sure what difference this will make, but I am hopeful.

What have I learned? That God’s discipline is gracious and his desire is for growth and not harm. He is the best of parents to us.

Chapter 6 – Relational Re-Entry: Who knows and who doesn’t?

{Having recently published Sacred Heart Attack | Sacrèe Crise Cardiaque,I’ve begun writing a sequel telling of the my recovery and the aftermath of my ten dramatic days in Montreal. I’m sharing Chapter 6 of the yet to titled book that I expect to publish in early 2014. It will be more reflective and deal with some of the deeper issues surrounding a near death experience.}

(January 17, 2013) There were a couple of things that I knew would occur over the next few weeks. One, I’d be greeting good friends about every other day as they delivered meals to us. Some would want to visit and see how I was doing and ask a few questions. Others would want to make a quick stop and drop off food, but wouldn’t have time to visit. As one who’s said to have the “gift of gab” and finds it difficult to give short answers without appropriate context, I could expect to be frustrated by the brief encounters. And the longer visits would be deeply satisfying while helping me to release some of the emotional baggage I was carrying. Good baggage, but luggage that needed to be unpacked and put in its proper place. Tears would show my fear, pain, anxiety and joy. Amazing what shedding a few tears can accomplish.

Secondly, I knew that saying “I had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago…, a couple of months ago,” would be a significant part of my conversation with most everyone for a while. And with friends who were aware of my surprise heart “event” I would be explaining symptoms and warning signs that I had or had not experienced before and during the attack. There would be lots of very natural questions.

Again, I felt a combination of anxiety and welcome as I anticipated future encounters. I would learn later that one thing I had not anticipated was a conversation where a fellow traveler would share about someone close to them who didn’t make it to the hospital in time or the medical teams weren’t able to save them and the blocked artery killed them.

These encounters would hit me hard with a combination punch of sadness and wonder– sadness for my friend’s loss and wonder at God’s tender mercy for saving my life. I would ask myself what my life now meant. Was I called to make dramatic changes? Had God saved me for some enduring quest? Was he planning to re-direct my path into a new world? Or did it mean, simply and profoundly, that my time on earth was not done. I knew I had more rough edges that God could shave off before I was ready for heaven, but I knew, too, that that hasn’t stopped him from taking people in the past.

What does it mean that I am still alive?

It is a question that would be my constant companion for months to come.

Kickstarter Backers Helped Publish “Sacred Heart Attack”

When my new book Sacred Heart Attack | Sacrée Crise Cardiaque rolled off the presses last month much of the cost was underwritten by 47 friends and family who backed the project via Kickstarter. The use of “crowdfunding” has become an important slice of the financing pie to launch all kinds of creative and innovative projects from books to fashion lines to recycling initiatives. And I decided to use has an objective third-party to facilitate the helping hand that several friends had wanted to offer. It worked out great! Currently, 42% of Kickstarter projects are successfully 100% funded. If a project doesn’t meet its goal then pledges are cancelled. Our project received 107% funding.

Most backers received a “reward” for their support and that was usually a signed copy or two of the finished book. Some received ebooks and others only wanted to make a donation.

It was a great experience for me to learn about running a campaign and being consistent in a 30-day effort. So, it was a win-win!

I’d also like to thank all of my backers by listing their names here:

Jenny Locklear

Jameson & Bethany Locklear

Craig Perry

Danielle Georgiou & Justin Locklear

Joe & Kristine Hope

David & Mary Harris

Howard Huddleston

Collin Setterberg

William T. Locklear

Frank Gross

Jim Skesavage

Clell Deaver

Bill & Bernie Locklear

Jody Locklear

Bobby Gross

Teresa Ariail Willis

Michael Lee

Debbie & Ben Buchanan

Tom & Gail Buchanan

Patrick Freeman

Lance Lipman

Carolyn Hansen

Jennifer & Ryan Haeseler

Bill & Terri Reid

Gwen JeSchonek

Diane Hunter

Carol Shunnarah

John Arnold

Chuck Vogt

Jeanie Arnold

Tamara McElhannon

Rebecca McKnight

Michael Roche

Judy Miller

Laura Wells

Bill Christian

Elaine Hansen

Alice Scott

Lou Locklear

Jed Locklear

Josh Jackson

Dennis Cox

Courtney Micksch

Joe Kirk

Paulo Barrera

Samantha Rodriquez

Jae Robbins

Derek Owens

You will forever be in my heart.