Reflections

Herbert Budka
Free Neuropathol 1: 15 (2020)
At my current age of 73, the ability to see – somewhere into the mid-distance between the quotations above – has been shaped by mentors, colleagues, students and trainees, friends and family. I started to write this since the second week of the CoVID-19-related lockdown. Virtually nobody was seen outside, a bizarre experience that reminds me of my first memories as an infant in post-war occupied Vienna when people tried to avoid public encounters, particularly with patrolling Soviet soldiers. In mid-March 2020, nobody could foresee how the SARS-CoV2 pandemic would evolve. As my wife, an active hospital nurse, and our 12-year-old daughter at school had and have some risk to get infected, we agreed to temporarily separate. Now I stay in self-imposed isolation with our dog Gorry in a small rented apartment in the beautiful Vienna Woods. Like others who, during the present lockdown, have a chance to re-consider their way of life, I have ample time to reflect on my life and on neuropathology. I write this just based on my memories, as most of my written documents are either back in my home or have been destroyed after I retired from my directorship of the (Clinical) Institute of Neurology, formerly Neurological Institute (NI, Obersteiner Institute) in Vienna. Without doubt, the reader will detect in these memoirs the characteristic reminiscence bump of psychology, i. e. the strongest memories date back to adolescence and early adulthood, and emotionally positive memories dominate. However, I consider my whole professional life as extraordinary privilege to have done what I enjoyed most, having made many friends and met great personalities including true giants in medicine, science and research. Moreover, I believe to have witnessed the golden era of neuropathology, spanning from rather subjective interpretation of classical morphology to unprecedentedly detailed molecular diagnoses and fascinating understanding of aetiologies and pathogenesis of diseases of the nervous system. I will keep this fascination forever.