Skip to content
May 2 / Vick Mickunas

Half a lifetime ago

Today is May 2, 2018. 31 years ago on May 2, 1987 I had just finished hosting my late night radio show on KBLE in Des Moines. I was heading home on my bicycle. The streets were quiet and dark. I was riding along the back streets because I wanted to avoid traffic.

When I got to an intersection with a four way stop on Crocker Street I paused then proceeded to pass through the intersection. The street was slightly wet from a light rain that had fallen earlier in the evening. As I went into the intersection a Subaru came flying toward me along Crocker. It went right through the stop sign without stopping.

The driver stopped when he heard his vehicle collide with me. There was an after wedding party happening at a house on the corner. They must have heard the sound of the collision, too. A guy in a pink tuxedo had come out and was trying to prevent me from climbing onto what was left of my bicycle to try to ride away. I kept trying to get back on my bicycle and didn’t seem to understand that it wasn’t in any condition to ride.

I wasn’t heeding this fellow’s requests that I calm down and wait for the ambulance that they had called. Finally this fellow in the pink tuxedo was able to get me down on the ground but I kept trying to get up. At that point he sat on my chest to deter me from trying to rise up again and hop on my bike to ride away. I might have been in shock but I still remember looking up at this fellow who was sitting on me. I might not have been in any condition to ride away but I still recognized him. He had been on my Little League team when we were eight years old.

I looked at him as he was struggling to keep holding me down and I said “hey, you’re Steve Holcomb. We were on the same baseball team, the Senators!” That was back in the days when the Washington Senators still existed. He looked down at me and replied: “WHO, the FUCK, ARE YOU?!”

I don’t remember much more from that night. Apparently the ambulance arrived and took me to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital. By an odd coincidence it was the same place where I had been born. Someone called my mother and she came down. I don’t remember being at the hospital but I apparently never lost consciousness.

Later my mom told me that I kept repeating the same things over and over again. Every couple of minutes I would ask: “what time is it?” And whenever there were medical personnel around I would tell them” “I think I have a subdural hematoma.” I have no recollection of doing that.

There was a resident physician on duty who was doing a residency in plastic surgery. Apparently the ER is a good place for emergency plastic surgery situations to arise. I was one. I have no remembrance of anything that happened at the hospital. I am told that he took lots of photos of my head injury.

I had been scalped. I wasn’t wearing a helmet. The top of my head had collided with the front fender of the Subaru. I was told later on that if I had been wearing a helmet I probably would have broken my neck. Because I wasn’t wearing a helmet the soft fleshy tissue of my scalp and forehead absorbed the impact. I didn’t fracture my skull or get knocked out but the impact had stripped away a large piece of flesh and the flap was hanging down over my forehead. It is no wonder that I wasn’t recognizable to my former teammate in the pink tuxedo. I apparently looked like something from a horror film.

The resident plastic surgeon did the repair on my scalp and they sent me home. The next day I spoke to the doctor on the phone about my surgery and the after care I would require. He seemed very excited. He told me that it had been quite a rare opportunity to do that particular type of plastic surgery. I asked him why it was unusual? He explained that 99% of the time if someone had an injury like that surgery was not done because the person who had sustained that sort of horrific wound was usually already dead.

I consider today to be my 31st birthday. I probably should have died that night. I guess it wasn’t my time? I had been born again. Really. Every day that I have lived since has been a blessing. Extra days. That was half a lifetime ago.

I have always been rather hard headed. If I had been wearing a helmet that night I might have spent the last 31 years in a wheelchair. I didn’t even fracture my skull. But I understand that I put quite a nice dent in his Subaru. With my bare head.

Leave a Comment