Dramatic Heart Attack Experience is Basis for New Book

Atlanta resident writes first-hand account of suffering a heart attack while in Montreal, QC, Canada earlier this year

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 (August 23, 2013)– “Almost like the heart attack itself, the idea and demand for this story has been a total surprise,” said Decatur, GA-resident 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.”

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.

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 involved in fundraising with L’Arche Atlanta. 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 Westbowpress.com, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Contact information: Jimmy Locklear, jimmy@jimmylocklear.com, (404)314-8016, facebook.com/jimmylocklearauthor and via twitter @j5locklear


Quickstarter Project Successful

Thank you, friends!!! Your belief and support of this project is amazing. I’m humbled and honored to know you and to be the recipient of your investment to share this story.

You are now a part of my story and I will forever be grateful to God and you. One of the simplest messages of Sacred Heart Attack is we all have stories that need to be told. Our stories of suffering, heroism, friendship and beauty give hope to all of us.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

Love and peace, Jimmy


A publishing project using Kickstarter.com

Previously, I’ve posted chapters of my forthcoming book, Sacred Heart Attack. In order to do the kind of marketing and distribution I’d like and to broaden my person platform, I’m doing a funding project with Kickstarter.com. You can review the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2020552486/sacred-heart-attack-book-publishing-project

And here’s the video I’m using to introduce the book and project.

Ode to a heart attack

January 9, 2013


My heart is broke, not working.

Under attack, from within;

Relentless pain and confusion reign

As slowly clarity emerges.


What happened to me?

Did I do this?


My God, my God, why…

But, wait, Spirit is present,

As slowly calm emerges.


Life is present.

Wholeness preserved.

Friends are present speaking prayers,

Speaking love

As slowly comfort emerges.


Plans have changed.

Life is reborn and saved.

Anxiety, fear, future and hope–


As slowly a new day emerges.


©Jimmy Locklear, 2013.

Chapter 12: Saying Thank You

Slide1It was Monday morning and I was feeling tired, but anxious to be discharged. Various nurses had mentioned that I was indeed on the list to be discharged today. The process started in the late morning.

Dr. Charron came by to pick up payment for the two angioplasty procedures he had done on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. We were paying him in cash that Jenny had brought since we couldn’t write a check in Canadian dollars. I was grateful that she and Jameson got to meet Charron, the youthful father of four. It was during his visit that we learned of the difficulty he had reaching the blockage in my left anterior descending artery.

After going in through a small slit in my right wrist, he discovered that there were a couple of arteries that were crossed somewhere between the insertion point on my radial artery and my heart. While this is a common challenge – often catheter manipulation is more difficult because the radial artery is smaller than the femoral artery and while a different and smaller catheter is used, it is a tight fit – navigating the right subclavian artery can be unpredictable. In a bit of a race with time and the ongoing damage being done to my heart due to the back up of blood, he was making a final effort to reach the clot before resorting to cutting open my chest and doing open heart surgery, when he was able to get through to the clot and break it up. He said that doing open-heart surgery in emergency situations like mine don’t turn out well and it was not what he had wanted to do. We also learned that I was one of five heart attack patients that had come through the ER that night for Dr. Charron.

I grew more thankful for the mercy of God, the prayers of his people and the skill and persistence of Dr. Charron and his associates. Being able to thank the doctor one more time felt good to my soul, as well.

We don’t know the ways God and his angels have protected us and saved us over the years. So, being made aware of our closeness to death is an awareness that makes all of the people and creation around us all the more precious.

Why I write: An Unexpected Story

There are lots of reasons that I write. One of the foundational reasons is that it seems to be what allows me to share my heart with God. Often, the words flow from my heart to my hand to the heart of God. I feel a closeness to my Creator when I am expressing my thoughts and feelings through written or typed phrases and sentences. I’ve recently written an article for the L’Arche Atlanta Spring Newsletter that shows the importance of sharing our stories with others. Here’s the story I shared:


Rimas, Jimmy, Martynas, Jed & Jenny

An Unexpected Story

We were only together for three days, but we shared many profound moments. And it is a stretch to share such deep heart connections that our family made with Rimas and Martynas during the home visit weekend prior to the L’Arche International Assembly held in Atlanta in June of 2012. But, I’ll give it a try.

Rimas is the community director for L’Arche in Vilnius, Lithuania that is called Betzatos Bendruomene which means Bethesda Community commemorating the healing that Jesus did in the pool called Bethesda in Jerusalem. Martynas was the founding core member of the community and is an accomplished artist. Rimas was a Franciscan Brother for five years before God called him into business and he is now married with three children. We made our initial introductions via Skype a few days before their arrival in Atlanta.

We had a wonderful time from the start, enjoying cooking out, sharing experiences and stories of how we became involved with L’Arche. Martynas had a short list of sites he wanted to see and things he wanted to do, so, Saturday was a long and full day. After a hearty breakfast of waffles, bacon, and fruit, we were off to explore downtown Atlanta. Martynas wanted to buy a Coca-Cola from the World of Coke and we stopped off at Centennial Olympic Park and I explained the various neighborhoods, businesses and sports venues along the way.

We swung back by our home in the Oak Grove neighborhood and ate some lunch. I had bought a loaf of black rye bread which is a Lithuanian staple and we ate it at every meal. Then, my 22-year-old son Jed, Martynas, Rimas and I were off to Stone Mtn. to go hiking. Since it wasn’t too hot, we decided to hike up the mountain. Everyone survived and enjoyed the perspective from the top of the largest granite outcropping in the world.

Back at our house, we enjoyed cooking and eating outside and talking about our day. All along the way, we talked about life in our respective countries. Rimas spoke good conversational English, and although Martynas was fairly limited, he did not hesitate to ask Rimas to translate his questions for us. Shortly after dinner, Martynas, who requires a bit more sleep than we did, was off to bed. Our son Jed retired around 10:00 PM. So, it was my wife Jenny, Rimas and I who were talking at our dining room table. Jenny was enjoying a glass of wine, Rimas was sampling some of our fine local craft beer and I was drinking Lithuania’s oldest and noblest drink – mead – that Rimas had brought as a gift for us.

I was asking Rimas about his parents and his home life growing up. I had no idea of the power of the story he was about to tell. Rimas said that when his mother was five years old she and her twin sister were shipped to Siberia. Over one million Lithuanians (one-third of it’s 1940 population) were lost during World War II during Nazi and Soviet occupations through deportations, executions, incarceration and forced emigration. Over 150,000 were taken from their homeland and forced to go to Siberia, the Arctic Circle or central Asia by the communist government of Josef Stalin. Separated from her parents, after a four-week trip in a boxcar built for animals the five-year-old girl was forced off the train in Siberia and told to fend for herself. I was shocked as my friend shared such a painful story. I tried to imagine how a five-year-old would feel. He went on to say that after five years of that Siberian exile, she was able to escape and sneak on to a passenger train and spend two-weeks traveling the 4,500 kilometers back to her country. She made contact with an uncle and eventually made it to her uncle’s home where she was raised. Her twin sister stayed for a few years more in Siberia before being able to return to Lithuania. Approximately 30,000 died in Siberia due to starvation and slave work and another 50,000 were never able to return to Lithuania.

Rimas said that his father also had a similar experience and his parents met after they had returned to Lithuania. One of the challenges in 21st Century Lithuania is teaching the next generation about the pain and suffering of the past. Because life is so good now, there is a tendency to forget the past or not be aware of the price paid by previous generations. He said that he has told these stories to his own children and that there is a movement in Lithuania to share stories from 75 years ago.

As we talked, I was reminded that there is a story in each of us. And that it is in the sharing of our stories that we are changed and made more whole. The visit of Rimas and Martynas has now become a part of my family’s story. What’s your story? Won’t you share it with us!


Making Our Lives Available to Others

One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this:   “I have nothing original to say.  Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to.”  This, however, is not a good argument for not writing.  Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived.  Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well.  Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told.  We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them. ~ Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey.

Chapter 11: Cardiac Choices & Perspectives

In my new room, there was a Greek-born gentleman who had lived most of his life in North Montreal. He speaks three languages and was very helpful and friendly to me. He was in the hospital to get a new defibrillator put into his chest. He had suffered a heart attack about eight years ago. He said that it was a Friday evening and he wasn’t feeling well, so, he told the staff at one of the restaurants that he owned that he was going home early. He drove himself home took a shower, which he said “you’re not suppose to do,” and told his wife he thought he might be having a heart attack. She drove him to Sacred Heart Hospital and shortly he had open-heart surgery. He and his wife raved about this hospital and the great medical staff here. And they were generous in offering to help me in any way.

A pragmatic man, my new friend said that he had been offered an opportunity to be put on the list for a transplant, but he turned it down. To him, it seemed too risky and painful a process to go through. He said that heart-transplant patients are miserable for a year with lots of pain and discomfort just to add a couple of years to your life. He wasn’t interested. Now, he was quick to add that his wife and daughter had shared a different perspective, but so far he had won the argument. He is 68 and a successful restaurateur. He said that his family would be fine.

As you might imagine, his perspective raised some questions in my mind. I could see where he was coming from. On more than one occasion, I had been critical of terminally ill patients who had spend more money than their families would ever have to extend life for a short amount of time. It seemed to me to be a selfish attitude on the patient’s part or a fear-based or guilt-based posture for the family to take.

On Monday morning, he and I were talking and I asked him if he believed in heaven. With no hesitation he said, “No.” He thought that once you died that was it. There was a big nothing at that point. He was content that he had lived a full, good life and taken care of his children and grandchildren.

He subsequently “went off” for some time on the political nature of the Pope and the Apostle Paul. He said that Paul was a big time opportunist who saw an opening for political gain and went for it. The fact that much of the New Testament was written by a guy who was late to the party seemed very suspicious to him.

Our own intelligence, reasoning and beliefs about what God should be like often form a barrier to true faith. We are often looking at ways to prove ourselves smarter than God.

I hadn’t slept well the night before or the night before that. In fact, I was beginning to be anxious about leaving the hospital for my recuperation period. Along with the discomfort of changing beds and rooms and the increased noise of not being in a private CCU room, my slower breathing and heart rate created some anxiety and I felt like I was going to stop breathing if I went to sleep. That’ll definitely keep you awake! It would later become apparent that I still had some fluid in my lungs that was hindering my breathing.

Chapter 10: Emotional Release

It’s early Sunday morning and I’m in a new room with another sick person on the other side of the curtain. I’m not aware of who this person is; there’ve been no introductions and, yet, we’re in beds about seven feet from each other. On one level, I didn’t want to meet the woman in the next bed. I felt I had enough to think about and I didn’t want to hear of another person’s struggles. Still, I was curious and wanted to be polite, but it was obvious she was sick (what with the nausea and coughing) and seemed to only speak French. She was talking on the phone a lot.

My friend Henri Nouwen said, “… Anyone who willingly enters into the pain of a stranger is truly a remarkable person.” I’ll pass on being remarkable today!

Basically, I survived the next several hours until after lunch. At around 2:00, I heard the door open and in walked my son Jameson and my wife Jenny with suitcases and backpacks in hand. My emotions released! I hugged Jenny and wept for quite a while in a strong embrace. Neither of us wanted to let go.

It just felt so good to see them both. That they had made it safe and sound to Montreal and the hospital and my room was cause for thankfulness. I felt closer to getting home. Jameson’s ticket from Dayton, OH, to Montreal routed him through Atlanta this morning where he boarded the same plane that Jenny was scheduled for and they had flown and arrived together. That was awesome.

I don’t remember all that we talked about, but I recounted the events of the past 24 hours and how I ended up in this room. I was trying to not lose track of time, but it was a challenge.

I felt loved and connected in a way that I hadn’t since Curt left on Saturday and I hadn’t felt as deeply since the week before when I left Atlanta for the workshop in Montreal.

I told them that all of the nurses and doctors knew that I was expecting to be discharged on Monday and that I needed a letter from Dr. Lalonde giving me permission to fly on Delta Airlines on Tuesday.

Eventually, or within a couple of hours, I was told that I would be moving down the hall to another room. With that warning, Jameson and Jenny went ahead and ate some lunch they had picked up on the way to the hospital.

We looked a bit out of place moving down the hallway. I was in a wheelchair and the nurses, orderlies and Jameson and Jenny were carrying plastic bags, coats, clothing and multiple suitcases. One of the patients in my new room asked if we just came from out-of-town! “Well, kinda,” I said. Jeff Foxworthy would call us, “The Clampetts Go to the Hospital.”

This new room was very large with 4 beds and 4 male patients curtained off in each corner. One of the patients was about to be moved or sequestered into a private space because he had some highly contagious illness. All the visitors in the room were wearing masks and gowns. Not sure we want to be here! But, soon he was gone.

However, the fact of that man with the highly contagious disease having been in our room, we would shortly be spending over three hours in the hall waiting as a team of cleaning personnel in sanitary garb decontaminated our room and the room across the hall. They scrubbed or changed everything in the room. This included new furnishings, linens, and curtains – both those dividing the room into quadrants and the ones hanging over the windows.

I was thankful to have the three newspapers to read and to share with my fellow patients.

Jenny and Jameson left as the cleaning project ensued. They caught a taxi and went to the hotel to check in and then meet up with Gus and Paola for dinner.

It was a blessed Sunday for me as part of my family had travelled many miles to see me. And I was actually feeling better in this larger and brighter room next to a large window.

June 18-19, 2012 24-hour Silent Retreat

I don’t know if you have ever taken a private silent retreat for a day or a week or so, but I have done it from time to time. While our hearts long to slow down, rest and reflect, we rarely feel we can afford to do nothing for several hours or a whole day. The last time I took the time was about nine months ago. I was distraught and tired and stressed. So, I shared with my wife that I needed to take a 24-hour retreat. She supported the idea and knew that I was feeling overwhelmed. So, here are my notes. Perhaps it will fuel your decision to spend some time in solitude.

Monday afternoon 5:25 PM – Reading Nehemiah 1:1-2:10

  1. Hears the news of Jerusalem
  2. Weeps, mourns the loss
  3. Prays – confesses sin, reminded God of his promises, asks for favor with king
  4. Goes about his work…
  5. Four months later the king notices Nehemiah being sad and asks him what’s wrong.
  6. Nehemiah tells his story and asks for help
  7. King and queen confer and say sure, they’ll be glad to help
  8. Nehemiah takes the letters of support the king & queen give him and the army the king provided and went toward Jerusalem
  9. Arrives in Jerusalem; it’s January.
  10. After being in town for three days he goes to inspect the walls
  11. Opposition to him begins immediately from foreigners and outsiders

I’m immediately struck that the Lord called a eunuch, a man who worked for the king/government to restore the holy and symbolic city of Judah. Not a warrior, not a priest, but a man of compassion and planning. Could it be that the Lord would want to re-build Intown?

6:00 PM – Listening to Henri Nouwen’s book: The Way of the Heart (it’s only about 2 hours long available on Audible.com)

4th and 5th Century in Egyptian desert – the Sayings of the Desert Fathers provide a consistent theme with today and how our hearts have not changed. They dealt with the same challenges and temptations that we deal with today.

We are busy people, we go through our days doing the “should” and “oughts” as if they were the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The compulsive minister – our society is ship wrecked and we should be running for our lives.

Have been so seduced by the powers of our dark world that we have become blind to our fatal state?

Meetings to attend, visits to make and many services to lead. We are motivated to come to church, give money, be happy and be rewarded by rewards that are rewarded to busy people. Why is this so?

What is my identity?

There is anger below the surface.

Solitude is the furnace of transformation… the place of conversion. The old self dies and the new self emerges in solitude.

Transforming solitude.

  • get rid of scaffolding
  • it is a concrete place
  • We have to die to our neighbors – to stop judging them, to stop measuring our success in comparison to them.
  • Thus, to become free to become compassionate
  • Compassion and judgement cannot co-exist

Three things are concerning me:

  1. My church
  2. Friend 1
  3. Friend 2

Silence – Psalm 39:1 – St. Benidict

I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”

Words can get in the way.

Silence guards the inner life with God.

Preaching: read the words of Scripture repeatedly and allow for silence with a few comments.

Holy Spirit is the divine counselour.

Solitude and silence can never be separated from the call to unceasing prayer.

As soon as you decide that you are going to live in peace, evil comes to attack you with boredom, distraction, evil thoughts, sickness, weakness, etc.

Prayer of the mind –

  • Most ministers pray very little or not at all
  • One of the attacks of evil is making us think that prayer is primarily of the mind – “speaking with God” or thinking about God, talking to God.
  • Thinking about God is not a spontaneous event while thinking about the pressing matters of life comes quite naturally – ain’t that a bitch?
  • This intellectual idea of prayer has evolved through a view of the world as being mastered through the intellect
  • Real prayer comes from the heart

Nouwen said, “To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart and there to stand in the face of the Lord ever present, all seeing within you.”

Prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart. Totally one. Heart speaks to heart.

Stretch out your hand, “Lord as you will and as you know, have mercy. Lord, help.”

If we train our hearts to a point of praying, we will pray more.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

As my prayer passes from my lips to my heart, the heart continues to pray in me.

Solitude, Silence & Prayer.

8:50 PM


  1. Don’t judge others
  2. Have compassion
  3. Be silent more
  4. Pray unceasingly

Church – stay?

Friend 1 in relational challenge – love and listen

Friend 2 with ministry challenge – support – how?

6/19/2012 – 9:15 AM

Read a blog by John Eldredge on Practicing the Presence of Jesus through worship, personal worship. Good stuff!

Remembering Jed’s birth brings me to tears. He’s 22 today and what a kid!

(Song lyrics) “If I give it all to you, will you take it all?”

When I was a very young follower of Jesus, I would sit on the wooden floor in the bedroom I shared with two brothers. I would station myself at the end of the dresser near our closet and read the Bible and pray. Some 45+ years later God is still present as I follow the pattern of reading, praying and listening. Several years ago I asked the Lord to take me back or to restore that sense of His presence and He’s done that through years of pruning by his hand of love.

Thank you, Lord.

Shane Claiborne – The Irresistible Revolution

Bob Sorge – Unrelenting Prayer

Toward a Vision of the Local Church (book I should write)

Friendship and community.

June 2006, American Sociological Review, Duke University and University of Arizona study: 1 in 4 Americans have no one to confide in.

The new social detachment appears to have come as a result of our hardwired American pursuit of what we want.

Where the church holds the trump card is in human contact.

House churches – would this be a place for us, Lord?

Intown: Praying for a leader to emerge to re-build my church. Like Nehemiah. A Team Effort.

Personal messages to me: this is a time of pruning and receiving.