http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/12/a-journey-into-illness/ “I got sick the way Hemingway says you go broke: gradually and then suddenly,” wrote Meghan O’Rourke in “What’s Wrong With Me?,” a 2013 New Yorker article that chronicled her struggles with a mysterious illness. What was wrong with the accomplished poet and memoirist was an immune system that had gone haywire, attacking the very cells it was supposed to protect. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, as many as 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmunity, and the numbers are on the rise. After her mother died in 2008 — an experience she wrote about in “The Long Goodbye” (2012) — O’Rourke contracted mononucleosis and “just never got better.” Two years ago she returned from a trip to Vietnam with a red rash on her arm, a fever, and a rising fear. “That’s when I got an autoimmune disease diagnosis, because it was pretty clear I couldn’t function. I couldn’t think of words. Something was very wrong.” O’Rourke, 38, was diagnosed last year with Lyme disease, a bacterial infection caused by a tick bite that can start off feeling like the flu and progress to nerve damage, arthritis, and, in severe cases, neurological problems. “I got much better,” she said. “But either the autoimmunity preceded the Lyme disease, or it helped trigger the autoimmunity.