I remember the day I took this photo, two decades ago. I was not feeling well, I knew that something terribly wrong was going on: I couldn’t think clearly, part of my brain had shut down. And that defiant smile was only the suit I dressed my fear with. Even if I came back in time one thousand times, I would not be able to save that talented boy. The best I could do would be trying to persuade him that it is not his fault.
Had I the chance to have him in front of me now, I would use modern technology, tools he couldn’t even dream of: I would scan his whole DNA, searching for rare genetic diseases, maybe use an array of random peptides in order to study his immune response to self, I could read all the foreign genetic material in his blood, in a quest for pathogens, and even measure 5 or 6 hundred metabolites in his body fluids, looking for deficiencies or abnormalities, and a few metabolites directly in his living brain using magnetic resonance with spectroscopy, checking neuroinflammation. And yet, this would probably be not enough to save his mind and his future and to prevent him from being housebound for decades. I feel that I have failed him, that I have left him alone in a path of unthinkable suffering and loss. There isn’t a day in which I don’t feel sorrow for my younger self.