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The 2009 documentary Under Our Skin is an incredibly important movie in the Lyme community. The award winning film is essential viewing for chronic Lyme patients and recommended for family and friends to gain a better understanding of the disease and the challenges of treatment.
After you've watched Under Our Skin, check out the sequel--Under Our Skin 2: Emergence.
If the first film was enough to make you feel hopeless, the second film will give you a glimmer of hope.
The film focuses on two major themes. One, an update on the political issues surrounding Lyme disease, the CDC, and the IDSA. And, two, an update on the patients from the first film. The former continues to be discouraging and maddening, while the later proves uplifting and hopeful.
You may remember Jordan Fisher Smith, the park ranger from Under Our Skin. He returns in the second film and makes the following statement, which pretty much sums up the Lyme experience: "The greatest problem that I see Lyme people having is that they are set in a public health setting that is doing its best to deny them treatment. You're going to have to fight for yourself, while feeling awful and not feeling like doing anything."
You will see the issues with conflicts of interest within the CDC and the IDSA, which appear to be driven by financial interests.
At one point in the story a scientist with promising research is ordered to shut down his program. Shutting down research? What could be the harm in more knowledge? There are clearly things the CDC doesn't want people to prove, because then they will have to admit they were wrong.
Jordan Fisher Smith hits the nail on the head: "We believe ourselves to be a democratic society, but the facts are we're getting less and less democratic all the time and the wind is blowing more and more in the direction of the big money."
It's horrible to think at the center of all this are very ill people.
Throughout the documentary, we check back in with the patients from the first film 7 years later. Many of the patients are faring better physically following long term treatment; however, we see how this illness tears some families apart and brings other families closer together.
The patients discuss how the healing happens on all levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Most importantly they are living proof that you can heal.
I loved this moment from Dietrich Klinghardt, MD:
"If you have Lyme disease, by my definition, it means also you belong to a tribe here on the planet that is more conscious and more sensitive and also more likely to do something once you recover that will be of benefit for all of us."
One patient from the first film is now a patient advocate and developed the website Lyme Less Live More to help people with Lyme. Near the end of the film she says, "You can get better and you will get better," to show despite the political issues surrounding Lyme, there are good doctors out there who can help you toward remission.
Unlike the first film this one is a little more difficult to find. You can purchase Under Our Skin 2: Emergence on YouTube, iTunes, or GooglePlay for $3.99. My library (Chicago Public Library) allows you to download it for free on the website Hoopla.
Or you can purchase a copy of the DVD on Amazon.
I'm hoping someday there is and Under Our Skin 3, in which the CDC and IDSA publicly apologize for all the damage done to people with Lyme disease. But until then, we'll keep raising awareness.
"It is reasonable to expect the doctor to recognize that science may not have all the answers to problems of health and healing." - Norman Cousins