The Massive Headwound
Story circa June 12th, 1998 | Back to Blog Listing

In the early summer of 1998, Aaron Duke (Sac), Jon Willis (Willis), and myself took a day trip to Surfside near Galveston.  Our intentions were to fish for the first few hours of the day, have a lunch on the beach, and then head over to a fishing spot we'd found along side the channel weeks earlier.

We probably left Katy sometime around 8am and would have ultimately arrived sometime around 9 or 9:30. Though I think Aaron had surfed a handful of times before, neither Willis nor I ever had. Nevertheless, we wasted no time getting into the water and began our morning of surfing.  To the best of my recollection, both Willis and I tended to stick together as we were both learning this new endeavor, whereas Aaron actually did have the ability to climb up on the board and ride a wave, even if for just a few short moments.

All in all things were going pretty well for the three of us; even Willis and I were finally starting to get the hang of it after just 30 or 45 minutes of practice.  After several attempts, some successful, most failures, Willis and I began another trip out towards the breakers.  We ultimately started walking side by side, but somehow or another he wound up getting 20 or 30 feet in front of me.  Without much warning a huge wave came through and though I didn't actually see it, Jon's board came loose from his hand and flew back towards me.  I guess the same wave wound up turning me around as well (which was probably to my advantage), but before I could think of anything I remember taking a hard blunt shot to the lower right quadrant of my cranium.

I immediately sank to the four or five foot murky Gulf of Mexico sea floor and instinctually cupped the back of my head.  I'm not sure how long I was underwater for, but it was strangely enough a rather peaceful feeling. It wasn't until I surfaced, unaware of where any of the boards now were, and brought my cupped hand in front of my face that I was aware of the trauma my head had experienced.  The real hint was the abundance of blood in my hand and even now on the surface of the water.

I'm not sure how long it took Aaron and Jon to realize what had happened, but it wasn't long before the three of us were back on the beach examining the depths of my wound.  Given the fairly uninhabited part of Galveston we were in, and the fact that we'd just driven over and hour and a half to get there, I wasn't particularly fond about the idea of turning back.  Jon suggested that I probably needed stitches, and while he was probably right, I never did get them.  Instead we concocted the idea to soak my t-shirt in our ice water cooler for a few moments and then to use the freezing t-shirt as a tourniquet on my head.  I waited patiently while the others carefully constricted the freezing cotton shirt to my head and tried not to think about how serious of a wound this may or may not have been.

Though I wasn't opposed to the guys continuing to surf, they politely packed things up and having turned down medical attention, we proceeded to fish for the rest of the day instead.

From that day onward, I was commonly called 'Massive Head Wound Harry', from the great Saturday Night Skit.  This name would later be shortened (over many years) to 'Massive Head Wound', and eventually just 'Massive'.

When we finally arrived back at the Duke's house that evening, tired, sunburned, and slightly damaged, there was just one last thing to do: remove the tourniquet.  This part does get slightly painful to speak of.  As the cotton t-shirt had been tightly affixed to an open wound and then left to sit under the hot Galveston sun for about 8 hours, the surrounding blood had dried and crusted over causing it to adhere to the wound.  Slowly and ever so carefully, Mrs. Duke began separating the cloth from the giant head wound.  The way I can really describe it is like ripping a band-aid off of a hairy part of your body, only the band-aid was a giant cotton shirt and the hair was the shard remains of my scalp.

Though I have never actually seen the wound (due to never having shaved my head), to this day I can still feel the two or three inch scar on the back of my head.