Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie Review: Under Our Skin

Under Our Skin ***
Directed By:
Andy Abrahams Wilson.

I have to admit that I knew very little about lyme disease before I watched this movie. What I did know, I learned from that one episode of The Simpsons when Miss Hoover thinks she has it and the movie Lymelife from earlier in 2009, where Timothy Hutton plays a man with the disease whose life spirals downward. I knew that if left untreated, it could cause neurological side effects. What I didn’t know was the massive controversy that the disease has caused in the medical community. Under Our Skin is a documentary that looks at the effect of lyme disease on the people inflicted with the illness.

There is a lot of ignorance when it comes to lyme disease. Many doctors believe that most people who think they suffer with the disease are just after attention or are hypochrondriacs. This is worsen by the fact that the standard test for lyme disease only gives positive results for about 50% of the people who actually have the disease. Patients have to fight for years to get a doctor to finally admit that they even have the disease. And when they do, there are few treatment options available to them. A new treatment, which requires long term use of antibiotics have helped many people with the disease. The problem is that the treatment has not been medically verified by the experts, and insurance companies do not want to pay for the expensive treatment. They go as far as lodging complaints against the doctors who prescribe this treatment to try and get their licenses suspended or revoked.

The movie is one sided, of that there can be no doubt. I looked into this disease after watching the movie, and found out that there have been studies into the effectiveness of prolonged antibiotic use in the treatment of “chronic lyme disease”, a diagnosis that many doctors insist is not real, and that the results have been inconclusive. And apparently, not all of the advocates of the chronic lyme disease diagnosis are as peaceful as the movie makes them out to be.

And yet, you cannot argue with the results that you see in the movie. One sided though it maybe, you can see a change in some of the patients in the film that have undergone this treatment. What the movie makes clear is that the disease needs further study, and more effective treatments need to be recognized and delivered to the patients. Whatever the situation is now, it isn’t really working.

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