The Mystery Illness That Plagued This Writer For Years





By Julie Rehmeyer in


On Saturday, November 4, 2006, I woke up semiparalyzed. My legs felt lead-plated; the signals instructing them to move seemed to get scrambled on the way down. It was as if someone had sloppily replaced my limbs with those of an elephant and connected only 10 percent of the nerves. My brain felt like an overripe peach, its juices threatening to seep from my eyeballs. Pain glowed out of my bones.

For seven long years, something hadn’t been right. On countless mornings, I’d wake up exhausted even after a full night’s sleep. When I exercised, my body reacted like an old nag, one that flattened its ears and bit when spurred. Early on, my doctor had gently asked about my stress levels. I burst into sobs: On top of my teaching job, I was building a straw-bale house outside Santa Fe with my own hands; in the meantime, I was living in a pair of ramshackle travel trailers with my husband, who was in the midst of a bipolar breakdown. “Sounds like you have good reason to be stressed!” my doctor declared. Days after the appointment, though, I found myself dragging my hand along a wall to steady myself, afraid I might pass out, and wondered, Could stress alone really do this?


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