Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer's Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn't Understand
Julie Rehmeyer felt like she was going to the desert to die.
Julie fully expected to be breathing at the end of the trip―but driving into Death Valley felt like giving up, surrendering. She’d spent years battling a mysterious illness so extreme that she often couldn’t turn over in her bed. The top specialists in the world were powerless to help, and research on her disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, was at a near standstill.
Having exhausted the plausible ideas, Julie turned to an implausible one. Going against both her instincts and her training as a science journalist and mathematician, she followed the advice of strangers she’d met on the Internet. Their theory―that mold in her home and possessions was making her sick―struck her as wacky pseudoscience. But they had recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome as severe as hers.
To test the theory that toxic mold was making her sick, Julie drove into the desert alone, leaving behind everything she owned. She wasn’t even certain she was well enough to take care of herself once she was there. She felt stripped not only of the life she’d known, but any future she could imagine.
With only her scientific savvy, investigative journalism skills, and dog, Frances, to rely on, Julie carved out her own path to wellness―and uncovered how shocking scientific neglect and misconduct had forced her and millions of others to go it alone. In stunning prose, she describes how her illness transformed her understanding of science, medicine, and spirituality. Through the Shadowlands brings scientific authority to a misunderstood disease and spins an incredible and compelling story of tenacity, resourcefulness, acceptance, and love.
JULIE REHMEYER is an award-winning mathematics and science writer. She is a contributing editor to Discover Magazine, and has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wired, Slate, Science News, and more. Her stories have been featured on The History Channel and NPR's All Things Considered. She is the 2016 recipient of Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Fellow at The University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Excellence in Statistical Reporting Award. She lives in Santa Fe, NM.