My first concussion

I was about to start this blog with, “I remember my first concussion like it was yesterday…” However, that would be a lie, because I actually remember nothing about my first concussion. Most of what I know has been told to me, and the few memories I have are a little disjointed. But the basic facts go something like this…


It was during a morning PE class in my 8th grade year. We were playing softball during the Spring semester and sometime while we were outside playing or warming up I took a wack-a-poo on the back of my dome. The stories that came out from various “eye witnesses” were many and varied, but sometime after that, I collapsed while playing in the outfield.


My first memories of the events of that day are waking up in the training room. My friend Danny was sitting there in tears, just talking to me, trying to keep me alert. Next I remember being in the ambulance going to the hospital and discovering that I knew the ambulance driver as a member of our church. Next I remember Bob Smith coming in with a bag of Peanut M & Ms and we played poker using them as chips. Finally, I remember being in recovery the following day. That’s about it.


Apparently during my hospital stay, I had many visitors. I remember none of them. If you were one of them, please don’t take that personally…I don’t even remember my mom being there!


My youth pastor, Bob Smith, showed up with the M & Ms and  brining with him some pictures of a recent trip we had taken. As the story goes, I would glance through the 15-20 photos he brought, laugh at some, ask questions about others, and then set them down next to my bed. Moments later I would pick them up and repeat the same laughter and questions at the same pictures. I repeated this several times until my mom took the pictures away even though I declared, “Hey…I haven’t seen those yet!”


While my grandmother was checking in on her favorite grandson, my friends Sonia and Buffy (along with some one else) came to visit me. Like the well-mannered child that I was, I introduced them to my grandmother. Every 2 minutes. For about half an hour. I just wanted to make sure they knew each other well.


Those first few hours were pretty scary for my family. If I was scared, I soon forgot about it and moved on to M & Ms and pictures. My brother Phil told me, years later, how worried my dad was seeing his son so loopy. I think my parents always knew there were some wires criss-crossed, I just don’t think they expected it to show itself so severely and suddenly.


That’s what makes the events of that particular episode of my life so “memorable”; in an instant, life was changed dramatically and unpredictably. No one woke up that day and thought, “you know what, I’ve got a feeling that Joe is going to crack his melon today, get a serious concussion, spend a night in the hospital and miss a week of school with serious headaches and a mild case of amnesia!”


But that’s how life is, isn’t it? Just when you think you know the routine, just when you and I get comfortable with “normal,” something happens to radically change our perspective. A car accident. A doctor’s prognosis. A friend suddenly passes away. Something valuable gets stolen. A child becomes seriously ill. A grandparent takes a painful fall. (all of these events I took off my Facebook feed from the past seven days). Like the commercial says, “Life comes at you hard.”

Moody quote

Moody was living with the end in mind!


There are no guarantees in this world but one: All of us are inching closer to the day our life ends in this world and begins in the next. That’s the only event we can be certain of, we are all going to pass on at some point. And while we know the reality of that end, we do not know the timing or the circumstances in which it will occur. So the question is: Are you living with the end in mind?


My 40th birthday has really brought about the somber reality that half of my life has passed (statistically). Even if I live to be 90 or 100, the fact remains that I am approaching the second half of my life. That reality has caused me to think more about what matters most to me, and how I want to spend the years, months, weeks, days, hours and seconds that remain. I’m asking God to help me narrow my vision to invest in the people and activities that matter most, so that what I do today, will live long after I’m gone.


I was in Chicago recently, visiting The Moody Church and a museum at Moody College that describes the life and times of its founder, Dwight L Moody. One quote really caught my attention as it pertained to Moody’s vision for the school: “…when I am gone, I shall leave some grand men and women behind.”


How’s your focus today? Are you living with the end in mind? Are you living in such a way that whatever God sends your way, whatever obstacles pop up on your journey, you’re in a place to trust the One who walks with you?


Life is full of uncertainty, but nothing catches God off guard. As you walk the Overboard Life, you walk with the One who know the future and knows the great plans He has for you. Are you trusting Him with His plans?

10 down, 30 to go.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

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9 Responses to My first concussion

  1. Bev says:

    The uncertainty of our lives is so much more of a reality than any of us recognize. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would wake up one day to find Jason had joined Jesus and much of my family in Heaven. A wake up call for sure, to live my life more intentionally, recognize every moment as the precious gift that it is. Thanks for the post. Another little reminder today to be intentional and not waste any of this gift of my life that God has given me.

    • joeacast says:

      Hey Bev, thought of Jason when I wrote that blog. I was out running that morning when I saw ambulances at his house. I remember checking in with Adam and the grief and shock he expressed that we all felt. I don’t even remember the run home as I contemplated God’s work in that moment and wondered how good would come of it. Thanks for sharing that and for living your own story for others to see (and read!).

      • Bev says:

        I did not know that you had been there. It is all so much of a blur. Did you know that a young man named Tyler Wells, who never knew Jason, contacted me and told me that he became a counselor at Gilead to step in for Jason. Pretty amazing.I love that Jason is still touching lives.

      • joeacast says:

        That’s great. Tyler is counseling out here, this summer! That week at Gilead had a huge impact on his life and his love for camping!

      • Bev says:

        That is so great – makes my heart happy!

  2. Tom Tanner says:

    Excellent quote from Moody. Great blog, and now I think I might need to write about my concussion. I know of at least a couple people who would find it humorous! Thanks again for your writing!

  3. Jeromy says:

    Amen brother. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Tom’s Brain Injury | Relentless Growth

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