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Jon Johnston Show: Why Your Dying Brain Is Like A Warehouse on Fire

Possibly the dumbest name ever for a podcast. I’m looking for feedback.


I’ve decided to launch my own podcast. Right now, it has the dumbest name conceivable, “The Jon Johnston Show”.

I’d like your feedback on what to name it. Right now, there are really two options:

  • “The Jon Johnston Show”
  • “Jon’s Post-Life Crisis”

At the end of this article is a poll. Vote on it.

I know we don’t get a lot of comments on podcast articles, but I expect comments as well. I’m open to suggestions.

I talk about why I’m starting a podcast.

I talk about what happened when I died.

I talk about how your dying brain is like a warehouse on fire.

And I hate peanut butter.


Welcome to the Jon Johnston Show, the inaugural debut episode of my podcast. I am naming it the Jon Johnston Show because it’s the dumbest name I can think of. And I have a history of doing dumb things. Let’s take the name CornNation, for example. Pretty stupid name for a Nebraska website. If you look at it, you just think about CornNation by itself has nothing to do with Nebraska football. And it literally took us years to get started much longer than it should have. Because when people searched, they wouldn’t find CornNation as associated with Nebraska football. They do now because we’re, you know, big and popular. But not then. There is a reason why CornNation is named what it is.

It’s because at the time I started the website, Steve Pederson was our athletic director and every indication of how he operated indicated that he was a control freak. I came to the conclusion at the time that he would sooner or later get around to suing every website with Husker or Nebraska in it out of existence. So I chose to go with something that was very generic, hence CornNation. I’ve been told that you shouldn’t use your own name in a podcast show unless you’re really famous. And I am nowhere near famous. But in the course of trying to come up with a podcast name, I didn’t really come up with anything better. I came up with “Just Some Schmo”, which is probably more indicative of where I am in life.

My Local VFW knows me as “Loud Jon”, which I considered. My dorm floor when I was in college, Schramm Six at the University of Nebraska, once gave me an award called “The Mouth of the Midwest”, because most of my life I’ve been a very loud person. I considered “Jon the Bastard” because I frequently introduce myself with that moniker to people who have never met me. But my understanding is that Apple frowns upon you using profanity in your title. And we wouldn’t want my podcast to be kept at out of Apple, would we?

The second best name that I came up with while I didn’t come up with it, my daughter Natalya came up with this is “ Jon’s Post Life crisis”. She originally went with “Jon’s midlife crisis”, but that doesn’t fit anymore, because I’m old. And I’ve already been dead once, hence, post life crises. Now, for right now, we’re going to stick with “The Jon Johnston Show”. And if it sticks, we’ll come up with some kind of production number to start out the podcast so that I don’t have to say that every time because it sounds really incredibly cheesy to me.

I would like your feedback.

We don’t get a lot of comments on the podcast coast posts, and we don’t get a lot of we don’t get email and we don’t get called into the phone number for the Five Heart podcast. And I really wish we would maybe we need to grow more. But I really expect to you guys to listen to this and give me feedback. You can tell me how stupid I am people do all the time. And or you can say, hey, this sounds like a great idea, Jon. Yeah.

So why am I doing my own podcast? Let’s start with that for an explanation. I’m doing my own podcast because, well, number one SB Nation is pushing us to create a podcast network. And I think they’re doing it with some success finally, after us nagging at them for a number of years. My biggest problem is that I’m going to do this because you have might have noticed on the website that I probably haven’t been around the last few months, as much as I should have been or could have been. Maybe you’re okay with that, I don’t know, I’m having a problem with energy. I have to be honest, I just had, it’s not the old age problem.

Or it could be an old age problem, because mostly I aged many years in a single day. But what the problem is, is that I just I don’t have the energy. There are a lot of articles over the last two, three years that I have wanted to write.Most of those are based on interviews, and you go interview somebody and then you write an article based on the interview. With the podcast, I kind of hope to just bypass the part of that production process and just do interviews. So while this is this inaugural episode is me talking, hopefully, you won’t have to deal with this very much. Because I don’t think anybody wants to listen to me talk for several minutes at a time. I talk to myself quite frequently. But that’s another issue.

I still want to contribute a lot to the website, you know, I thought about just becoming a site manager where I help everybody else be successful. But the problem with that is that I’m really full of shit. And it needs to go somewhere. Otherwise, I build up this unhealthy load of crap madness inside of me and it comes out in rants at my family. And they’re not happy when that happens. So this is what we’re going to try for me to get some of that out of my system into contribute more content to our website.

I hope to provide transcripts along with the podcast. Part of the energy issue is that I spend I’m in my real life, I’m an IT consultant, I spend all day typing on a keyboard. And then I come home at night. And I I try to type some more. And as you know, people who spend a lot of time on keyboards, you run into carpal tunnel issues. And what I found is that I recently started using a lot more transcription and a lot more dictation using software. And I hope that this is a way for me to get around just publishing a podcast without any text content. The next thing in my outline is goals, telling you what my goals are. Well, the reason why I’m calling it the Jon Johnston Show is that I don’t, I’m not going to focus on specific topics. This isn’t going to be a show about Husker football. And it’s not going to be a show about Husker sports, necessarily.

I’m going to cover a wide range of topics because I’m interested in a right wide range of topics. There’s a lot of there’s a lot of topics that are around sports, but they’re not sports itself. And I’m not talking about contract issues or things like that. Here’s an example - Big Ten culture. Do we do Nebraska fans after almost a decade of being in the Big Ten? Do Do we really understand Big Ten culture? I don’t think we do. I think that we’re still you know, we’re still very introspective, kind of like we’re Nebraska. And we showed up to the Big Ten. And the Big Ten’s been there for over 100 years. And they had an established culture and what is it? And do you want to learn more about it? Now? I hope so.

Other topics include the current state of journalism, and photography. Maybe you don’t care about this, maybe you hate it. But your Omaha paper and your Lincoln paper becoming smaller all the time, and your your hometown newspapers across Nebraska and across rural areas. throughout the United States are getting wiped out more. What about that? I got again, if it’s a topic you don’t care about, you don’t have to listen to the podcast. I hope you’ll join us for another one. I hope to have on this one is going to be probably more difficult. I hope to get brain people on my podcast. And I’ll tell you why in a little bit. But by brain people, I mean, neuro psychologists, neurologists, speech language pathologist, there’s a lot of knowledge just in there, isn’t there? But well, I’ll tell you,I hope to interview these people.

And the reason why is it goes back to the reason why I’m struggling.

There’s probably a lot of you that have been on CornNation for a few years. And you know that at one point, I had a severe heart attack, I’ll tell you what happened on that day, or at least as much as I know, because I certainly don’t remember it. I was dead.

August 21 2015, I was at a customer site.

I’ve worked at that customer site for probably 15 or 17 years now. I took my glasses off, I laid them down on the table, and I was having severe heartburn and I never get heartburn. And I certainly was never aware that heartburn could be a trigger for a heart attack. Otherwise, maybe it got myself checked out. I took my glasses off, I laid them down on the table, I put my hand in my forehead, kind of like when you do and you’re gonna rub your head to relieve stress.

And I fell over dead on the floor.

My colleague Bill and another colleague of mine, Ned started going through my laptop bag after they saw me on the floor, of course, to see if there was an epi pin, or some kind of indication that I had an allergic reaction to something. In other words, they weren’t aware that I just had a heart attack. They called 911. One of the women in the department went out into the parking lot near the building so she could flag down the ambulance. she happened to flag down an ambulance that wasn’t part of the dispatch. That ambulance crew came in saw that I was having a heart attack and immediately started CPR.

I was shocked five times on the way to the hospital with no response. I was shocked two more times in the emergency room and they got a response. I’m not sure what that means. But that’s how I tell the story. Because I’m not a doctor, you read through 400 pages of hospital notes and you read terms that you have no idea what they are no idea what they mean. So is all is technically correct? I don’t know.

What they did was they found that my left artery, called the widow maker because it’s the largest artery in your heart, was plugged with cholesterol, which is a surprise, surprise, because there was no indication that I’d ever had a problem with cholesterol. There was no problem. There was no indication that I that this would ever have happened to me. And I’d had physicals for years.They put in a stent, right, they put in a little balloon and a little wire mesh thing and they put the balloon and then they expanded it. It opens up your artery and then they put this wire mesh stent in your artery to give it strength.

So they opened up my blocked artery and then they put induced me into a coma. The reason for the coma is to save my brain. I guess this is standard operating procedure when you have this severe heart attack. My wife was given the “He’s in God’s hands” speech and basically told that even if he wakes up he has a good chance of not being him anymore because of brain damage.

She had to tell my children and then they all had to wait. My understanding is is that they just sat around in a waiting room watching like American Ninja Warrior for hours. That had to be torture. So later on, I come out of the coma. And I guess the first indication that they knew that I was still me was when I flipped my boss off in response to something he did to me. I again I don’t remember any of this.

This all comes from stories that I’ve gotten from other people about what happened because I have no idea I was in the hospital for 10 days. I don’t really remember any of it. There’s bits and pieces but they’re like a dream.After 10 days or so I leave the hospital and I leave it right before the Nebraska BYU game in 2015 you know the one more we lost the last moment on a hail mary. Speaking of Mary’s my sister Mary was very upset that the hospital sent me home because she would sure that was watching Nebraska football would probably kill me in my already dilapidated state. It did not because I’m I guess the bastard just wouldn’t die.

The following January. Keep in mind I have to go to the hospital. You know from August January I don’t know how many trips I made a hospital to meet with people and talk about like drugs or checkups with my cardiologist and went to cardio rehab for a couple weeks. In January I am at another customer site and I have heartburn again and I’m like what the hell is this? So I have been hold at cardio rehab if you don’t get help, when you suspect you have a heart issue, it only gets worse and I’m thinking I don’t want my heart to get any worse. Because the reality is is I was dead long enough that part of my heart is dead. And yes, I have told people that the part of my heart that is dead was the part that contain any love whatsoever for Creighton.

But I at this customer site, I call the ER or I call the you know, I don’t call 911 I call this nurse I’m supposed to contact the pie issues and she just flips out she’s like you’re going to the ER right now. And I call my wife of course because I’m like okay, I don’t feel horrible. I just have a little bit heartburn. Like what the hell’s Why is everybody these going nuts? And I convinced my wife, let’s just drive downtown to my hospital, which is HCMC, Hennepin County Medical Care in downtown Minneapolis. That’s where I was taken the first time I said to my wife Heidi, I said let’s just go down there. And she’s like, no, we’re going to the local ER go to locally are which is close to us and Chaska where I live.They take me my clothes. They give me colorful gown to wear. And they determined that yes, you look weird when we do an EKG. So you are going back to downtown Minneapolis in each CMC. So those people can take care of you.

During the ambulance ride, I am having a great time with the EMT. I am wearing a Fitbit and we’re comparing the heart rate on yet to their little heart monitor to which I’m connected to in the middle of the drive. The ambulance driver has to stomp on the brakes extremely hard. And I’m like what the hell is this and he’s like some people hate ambulances, which guess this happens to him all the time. We get down to HCMC, we pull into the the hospital’s emergency room, the doors to the ambulance fly open the doors to the ER fly of open, there’s about eight people standing there with really expectant looks on their faces. And when they see that I’m laughing with the paramedic or EMT, whatever they are, they’re kind of disappointed. And they have this really kind of angry look on their face. And one of them turns and looks at the EMT and says “we were told he was coding”. What my response was, “Holy shit. This must be what great customer service looks like.”

So I go in, I get a second stint. That’s the bottom line. my cardiologist tells me at that time, you know, he says cut nonchalantly he says we always knew that we’d have to do more work on you, Jon. But you were just too into rough shape the first time in which I responded I wish you would have told me this then I would have been more mentally prepared his responses that he did in fact, tell me several times.My wife concurs. “Yes, you’ve been told this repeatedly.”

That should give you an idea as to what this what kind of state my brain was. In other words, my short term memory was a bucket of crap. My memory itself isn’t very good. And I’ll get to the reason why. As I was going through these hospital visits with my cardiologist over the few months, I kept complaining about severe headaches. And these are headaches, they’re so bad. I have to lay in in bed all day in a dark room, because they’re painful. And that’s this point all apologize to you people who have migraines, because my entire life when somebody told me they had a migraine and had to like lay down or not go to work, I’d always go “Wow, that’s really too bad.” But I’d be thinking, “you’re just a baby, you’re fucking pansy, aren’t you?” And now that I’ve experienced headaches, where I had to lay down in a room all day, and not move, I understand what they’re talking about. The pain is debilitating.

It’s overwhelming. You can’t function. Any noise any input to your brain is might as well be a knife stabbing you right in in the brain, not in the score right in the brain. So going through these months a hospital visits about the next man may, my doctor finally agrees to refer me to the brain. Good Lord, I forgot the term.

The TBI clinic. Traumatic brain injury, they ordered a brain MRI. I get the results for this. And listen, again, it’s like my hospital notes. When you look at these things, you can’t read these things and understand them. They’re written in an entirely different language. It might be English, but it’s not English than any of us know, unless us are medical personnel.One of the things that is included in the MRI report is this line that says, “I must conclude that this is a real finding.”

Which means to me that they found brain damage. Well, there’s something interesting. So about June, I get diagnosed with a brain injury. Why did it take so long? I argued with my cardiologist about that, why he wasn’t doing more to you know, why couldn’t figure out my brain? And at one point, he said, “I don’t know, Jon, maybe it’s because you were dead. I mean, do you think that might have an effect on your health, being dead for a while?” I was too stubborn to admit any of that. Okay, the brain injury thing.

That’s the struggle I’m currently having. First, I’ll tell you what happens to your brain when you die. Okay, your brain gets the signal from your heart, in my case, I guess that you’re all leaving, and you’re going to a better place. And your brain is really this warehouse, full of massive numbers of people. And what they are in charge of is running your brain. They take all of your memories, and they put them in boxes, and they know where they are. Maybe they categorize by year, maybe they have another categorization, like all the women you knew. But their inbox is on a shelf, when the brain gets the signal from the heart that hey, we’re done. And we’re leaving. They all erupt in joy. Because in my case, of course, we know I’m an angel. And that means we’re going to a better place. So they immediately all these workers start pulling boxes down from the shelves, and they start throwing papers in the air.

And they throw all these massive piles, they just throw paper into a giant pile on the mobile floor. And you know, those guys, you’ve had people in your life where you have like pandemonium going on, and there’s always that one guy that wants to light everything on fire. So that’s what he does. He starts pouring the lighter fluid on everything, and kerosene. And then you got all these lighting your memories on fire. And then you got the other guy that wants to pour liquid on everything like water. I don’t know why those guys exist. I was always more of a fire guy.But there they are they taking all your memories, pulling them out of these boxes, throwing them on the floor, set them on fire, pouring water on them. God knows what else they’re doing to them.

And all of a sudden they get this message from the heart that says, “Oh, we’re not leaving. Put everything back.” Can you imagine all these guys in this warehouse looking at that big pile of crap that they’ve just created, that are your memories, and they just start grabbing pieces of paper and throwing them back into boxes. And they start, you know, some of them, they go well, this is to burn and they just throw them away. And all your memories, you know, some are intact because they were still on the shelves. And they never got to him to tear them out of there. Right. And some of your memories are burned and they’re gone. And some of your memories are just pieces of paper that makes stuck back into the wrong year, the long wrong subject.

This is why I have a perfectly good memory of playing high school football with a friend of mine that I didn’t meet until my second year in college. This is why I have memories of kids that my kids played soccer with and I was their coach that don’t fit into the teams. All the kids are jumbled up between two or three kids I coached. The same with Boy Scouts. And when I go to somebody’s place, I might not know them.I’ve had people come up to me in a grocery store and talk start talking to me like I was a long lost friend and I have no recollection of who they are.

2018, I went down to Omaha and I shot as a sports photographer, the College World Series. As I drove into Omaha on that area around TD Ameritrade Park, I realized that I didn’t remember ever being there before. And I have thousands of pictures from 2014 Big 10 tournament. I was there.

I was part of a group of people that are interviewed Big Ten Commissioner, Jim Delany. I don’t remember any of it. But I was there. I don’t remember the bowels of the stadium where the media work rooms are. I didn’t remember any of that stuff. It was really disconcerting. Because what a brain injury does to you is it rips away all the confidence you have in yourself as a human.

There are times at which I’m walking our very large dog Esther. I don’t know what you do when you’re walking your dog. But I have inner dialogues. People call them inner monologues. But for me there it’s more of a bipolar thing or something. I don’t know.

I have these conversations with myself and which is the guide question whether I’ve been brainwashed by Russians, or kidnapped by aliens and replaced into an alternative life and that this isn’t really my life anymore. That I never died of a heart attack, that I never had a brain injury. And then everything I see right now is an alternative reality.People shouldn’t have these conversations with themselves.

I do. That’s what a brain injury does to you. I am a glitchy person, I’m not going to tell you all of the different things about the brain injury problem. I’ll tell you that I can’t handle stress nearly as much as I used to. Any kind of stress when I’m working in my job wears me out at a much faster rate than it ever did before. That’s the biggest problem that I have.

I come home every day, I try to leave work a little early to avoid the massive rush hour. And at the end of every workday, I go upstairs and I take a nap or I meditate so that my brain can replenish itself. And then at night I try to write. I have been diagnosed with chronic headaches, and they vary in strength. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to whether or not they’re going to be nasty or decent on any given day.

Lack of sleep is probably the biggest determining factor I’ve found after doing a journal. But the problem is that I have these chronic headaches, I have a lack of energy, I have mental fatigue, and I still want to contribute. And I still feel like there’s parts of this story to be told.I am trying to write a book about what I’ve been through. But you’d be amazed at how difficult it is to write a book about your own death. Every time I sit down and look at it. I have to cry for about five minutes. Before I can do anything else. Sorry. We’ll pause

Okay, back.I could have been a serial killer and writing that book would been a hell of a lot easier than this.

Anyway, that’s where I’d like to go with this. And I think it’ll be difficult for me to get the attention of the brain people because they’re damned busy. And they all have very different opinions on things. CTE is a neuro degenerative disease. And it has had it makes headlines in college football and and pro football, bone sports. And I think part of that is that the narrative is a little bit overblown. But that’s hopefully something I’ll cover.

I will leave with two things. Number one, you need to give me feedback. I’m not I’d like to hear what you think about the dumbest name ever for a podcast.

Number two, I hate peanut butter. I woke up out of my coma hating peanut butter. According to my wife. This is stuff I found out later. Apparently I go into this coma, right? They have a tube down my throat. And then they what they do is they take the tube out which is called extubating. I’ve had to learn a lot of this stuff. And when they extubate me and they say, “You can finally eat some real food. What do you want to eat?” My response to the nurse is “I hate peanut butter. Don’t bring me any peanut butter.”

My wife will tell me that I’ll repeat the same phrase every time they came to me for the next few days to ask me what I wanted to eat. I’ve never hated peanut butter before I had a coma. Now I hate peanut butter. I don’t even eat Reese’s Pieces. Or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups which have to be the greatest candy ever made. I don’t eat peanut butter cookies. I don’t like to see peanut butter in my kitchen. You know somebody when they make a peanut butter sandwich. They leave the damned peanut butter on the knife and they leave it laying on the counter.I fucking hate that. It makes me gag.

The good news is I like guacamole. I never liked guacamole before. I guess brain injuries had their trade offs.And that’s it.

That’ll be the inaugural issue of this podcast. We’ll see what you think. I hope I hear from some of you. And we’ll see how it goes.

Thank you for listening. Bye


What Should I Name This Podcast?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    The Jon Johnston Show
    (12 votes)
  • 82%
    Jon’s Postlife Crisis
    (58 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now