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    Movie Review: Under Our Skin

    July 15, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    Last night, Si and I did something we rarely do on a weeknight: we watched something. That something was a documentary I’ve been waiting to see for quite some time now, and it is currently available streaming on Netflix. It’s called Under Our Skin, and it’s a story about Lyme Disease.

    Most of you know that I had chronic Lyme Disease for around a decade–basically my entire adolescence. Like every. single. patient. in the video, I became chronic because I went undiagnosed. It was more difficult to watch than I expected; I found myself nodding my head–yes. Yes! YES.

    These things really do happen, and the parallels to my own experience were striking.

    I thought the movie gave an accurate depiction of the issues surrounding Lyme Disease. For some reason, the disease is highly politicized. There is a whole group of physicians out there who say there is no such thing as chronic Lyme. I never understood that. How can you argue with results? My doctor treated me with long-term antibiotics…and I didn’t just get better; I got well.

    I know that it’s not fun or popular to take antibiotics for years and years and years, but the alternative is slowly dying, so why not bite the bullet?  If it’s done soon enough, patients don’t actually require hospital care–I certainly never did.

    One thing that never made sense to me is that here is a disease that gives pharmaceutical companies the ability to make lots of money off of old drugs. Plain old doxycycline and Biaxin work wonders with Lyme. Why don’t they jump on that bandwagon more aggressively? What am I missing?
    When I posted about Lyme a couple years ago, a number of you commented and said that you yourselves had Lyme, or had a relative or friend with Lyme. Since it is the number one infectious disease, I have no doubt that this is still true. Watching the documentary might help you know what you are up against.
    I can’t say I learned much from this film; I’ve lived it, after all. But one new thing really stuck out to me: the connection between Lyme and other diseases. One research scientist in the film, for instance, claimed that he biopsied ten brains from patients who had died of Alzheimer’s. Seven tested positive for Lyme. Even more interesting was the doctor who listed off five or six diseases with no known cause–among them ALS and MS–and said that he had never had a patient come in his door with one of those diseases who did not test positive for Lyme.
    This would make sense, if you are aware that Lyme is a cousin to syphilis, with the same ability to cross tissues and systems.
    Fascinating disease, as long as you are on the fun end of the microscope.

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  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts July 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    It *is* nice that they test early. I think here you still have to fight for it, though it’s gotten better than when I was a teen.

    The silly thing to me is that doctors are resistant to give antibiotics in this area until they have a positive test, even though we know that the nature of this type of spiral-shaped bacteria is such that it won’t always show up in the blood. The thing is, these same doctors will give antibiotics for the simplest cough, even when they aren’t sure if it is a bacteria or virus. I never understood that.

  • Reply Rachel R. July 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Oh, I meant to say that, because of the high incidence of Lyme here, we’re blessed, because most doctors think to do a Lyme test right away if symptoms seem to match. Whereas, elsewhere in the country, it can be hard to convince anyone to test for it.

  • Reply Rachel R. July 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    The county where my husband works has something like the second-highest Lyme rate in the country. At HSLDA (where he works – sort of), it is amazing how many employees or employee family members are wrestling with this disease. I need to sit down and watch the video.

  • Reply Kelly July 16, 2011 at 12:27 am

    We watched that a couple of months ago, based on your recommendation, I’m pretty sure. It really was good, but so infuriating.

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