Under Our Skin came out in 2009, and aside from small victories, things are very similar in Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.
Lyme disease is one of the most common and fastest growing infections in the country, yet there is still no reliable test or successful treatment protocol for late-stage Lyme. This film is a voice for all the silent sufferers.
The film follows a few specific cases of Lyme. The one that stood out to me was a young, vibrant woman, who had severe Bell's palsy and frequent seizures. She was referred to a psychiatrist and told it was all in her head. Her desperation was heartbreaking.
There were some moments in the film that I could relate to:
One featured patient travels with U2 on tour. At one point she said, "The hardest thing is everybody thinks I'm normal." On the outside she looked perfectly healthy, but she was walking around in constant pain. I look healthy and no one would ever know from my appearance that I am in treatment for Lyme. People who know my diagnosis often forget that I have certain limitations.
Another patient recalls a time when a doctor said, "You don't have Lyme Disease." Hearing this struck a nerve with me, because one year before my diagnosis, through Igenex testing and the iSpot test, a doctor said these exact words to me and refused to conduct a simple blood test. I don't know if a conventional ELISA or Western blot would've been positive, but I know in my time as a "undiagnosed" patient I had never been refused any other tests. It makes me wonder why the doctor was so adamant that I didn't have Lyme.
The movie left a bitter taste in my mouth. I've said many times that all I wanted was a diagnosis, not a controversy. Unfortunately that is the reality for Lyme patients around the world. On the other hand the Lyme community is so incredibly supportive. I know we will stick together and find a way to be heard.
There is one point in the movie when a doctor says, "We're going to learn more about chronic illness." This is one way to look at the controversy in a positive light. I think as we solve the mystery of Lyme disease and other chronic infections there will be a breakthrough in conditions previously thought of as incurable, such as certain autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer's disease. In my opinion many of these conditions are caused by chronic bacterial or viral infections and can be treated through antibiotics or, preferably, another safer treatment we have yet to discover.
The movie runs 144 minutes and you can stream it on Hulu or on Amazon if you have a Prime membership. You can also buy the director's cut on Amazon here:
This is a must see if you are a Lyme patient or know someone who is.
"You can damage the brain, you can damage the body, but the center of...the person you meet...she was whole." - Karen Cavanagh from OWN's Belief
I'm Kerry and I am a licensed therapist, writer & speaker. This is a positive space focused on how to thrive in any situation and the transformative power of suffering.