Posted by: Harold Knight | 10/13/2009

Nuclear Proliferation in My Backyard – Missiles, Seizures, and Health Care

270px-Titan2_color_siloThe Cold War is not responsible for the failure of doctors to recognize and exorcise my own personal little demons. When hypergraphia takes over, one has to write, and sometimes connections are not logical.

A memory haunts me because I can’t get the exact context in mind. Dr. Hanna’s office. On Avenue B, I think, in Scottsbluff, NE. I was in about fifth grade, circa 1955. Mother and I were there. The visit was about me. I was gaining weight—rapidly enough that it was worrisome (a story for another time). Dr. Hanna chatted up a storm with me, trying, I guess, to figure out what was wrong. A real family doctor back in the days when medical care was a given, and doctors were professionals doing a necessary service, not the stooges of insurance companies (our little city had two hospitals, one Roman Catholic, the other  Methodist—not for profit, but for health care). 

Dr. Hanna and Mother obviously  knew something was wrong with me. But he couldn’t find anything physical. He asked me if I was worried about anything. Worried? What kid in Western Nebraska wasn’t worried? Our air raid drills consisted of clambering under our desks to protect ourselves in case of an atomic bomb attack. That was more likely than it might seem. atlasf_silo_lift2The headquarters of the Strategic Air Command was less than 400 miles away at Offut Air Force Base near Omaha.  Titan ICBM installations under construction would be pointed at the Godless Soviet Union from Lincoln AFB in Lincoln, NE, and from Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, CO, (Scottsbluff is almost exactly midway between those bases). Atlas missiles were being readied at Warren Air Force Base at Cheyenne, WY, about 115 miles west of our town (they were deployed by 1958). Various others were being deployed scattered nearby in lonely silos: 14 in Kansas, 10 in Nebraska, 7 in Wyoming, 7 in Colorado (according to a recent disclosure by the Defense Department). If there were a nuclear holocaust we, not New York or Washington, would be in the middle of it. We didn’t know exactly where the bombs were, but we knew they were there—in our backyards. If we knew, the Russians must have known! 

So I told Dr. Hanna I was afraid of Russia, of nuclear war. Fourth or fifth grade and my ability to prevaricate about what was going on in my head had already developed. I don’t know if I was afraid of nuclear war or not. But I remember—how can I remember this fifty-five years later—not telling him that my mind often felt detached from my body, that I heard a high B-flat and some white noise and then everything would be still for just a second, and I then knew what was going to happen next around me because I had already experienced it. Sure I was going to tell him—or anyone—about that. I thought I was crazy. Wouldn’t they? 

So Dr. Hanna prescribed thyroxin tablets for my weight gain. I never again thought of telling anyone about the way I felt until I was in college. I was in counseling with the Chaplain (I’m not quite sure why or how that started except that I was depressed and homesick my freshman year, and I had enough sense to talk to someone). One day I tried to explain the oddities of my mental experiences to him. He was not put off and did not belittle my telling him (as every other doctor or counselor did until 1982), but he genuinely thought if I could get my sexuality sorted out, those weird feelings would go away.

If the federal government can be believed (Damn! I don’t want to sound like a Conspiracy Theorist), the beginning of the end of the nuclear missiles ringing “our fair city” came the same year as the beginning of the end of my seizures. One is almost as true as the other. In 1982 Ronald Regan began the START talks (ending the SALT talks which weren’t John Waynish enough). That, of course, was the beginning of the end of the arms race and nuclear proliferation. 

In 1982 I was diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and started taking huge daily doses of Tegretol, and that, of course, was the beginning of the end of my seizures.

At Christmas time in 2006, I called my brother in the middle of a weekday day ( I don’t know why, and he will tell you it was very strange; I never called at that time). targetoutsideThen I drove to the nearest Target store to buy Christmas tree lights . I remember walking up to the store manager and saying, “I don’t know where I am or why I’m here.” The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the in-store Burger King coming to, and two cops were asking me if I needed them to take me to the emergency room.  

As any fool can plainly see, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” (I must be having a seizure; I’d never in my right mind quote this song otherwise) is as effective as Tegretol and Lamictal. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act works about as well as anti-seizure drugs do.

See, I told you the connections are not always completely logical.
If you want to read something that makes me look totally sane, logical, and seizure free, check out:


  1. The world is not logical I was told if it ever is its over…


  2. […] national response to this threat—I mean Threat, with a capital “T”—was to plant guided missile silos in the back yards of unsuspecting kids in places like Kimball, Nebraska, and Lovell, Wyoming. Well, […]



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