Saturday, December 05, 2009

Under Our Skin - A Surprisingly Interesting Film About Lyme Disease

I recently had the chance to watch the documentary Under Our Skin. This compelling film was recently shortlisted as one of 15 potential Academy Award nomination for best feature length documentary.

The film is about Lyme disease. Prior to watching the film my thoughts on Lyme disease was the knowledge that it was a disease the people always say you can get from ticks and that I think this disease has been listed for a diagnosis on the medical diagnosis show House.

My wife and love House, and one of the things we surprisingly enjoy is the complexity of test, symptoms, and and challenges associates with mysterious diseases. The disease itself is practicly a character.

The picutre above is a syphilis spirochete, similar in appearance to the Lyme disease bacteria. In this film the bacteria is it's own character in this unique story.

I must admit, I was a little skeptical prior to screening this film. I think there is a tendency for documentary film makers to be Michael-Moore-like and try to expose something in an emotionally explosive way, and I was fearful this would be another "Sicko." Yet, while this film has a clear message about exposing misunderstanding and manipulation for monetary gain, this film isn't about pointing fingers. It's a film introducing viewers to the less-than-clear picture of this unique disease.

Watching this film is 104 minutes well spent, but it's not just informative, it's interesting. The film making is of the highest quality, not using gimmicks, but in telling tight stories in a clear and interesting way.

The film tells the stories of individuals and families fighting through the battles of chronic Lyme disease, one of the primary stories is that of Mandy Hughes, a sea world trainer in Orlando who records her deteriation and antibiotic treatment with a specialist from North Carolina.

But more than the stories of the patients, I found myself more intrigued by the perspectives and the stories of the doctors. These doctors treating an unknown disease and taking risk in their practices, especially with changing tides in the insurance and medical community bring some unique controversies and challenges to light.

One of the most unique mysteries this film discusses is the connection between Lyme disease and other more "spotlighted mysterious diseases" like Parkinson's, Muscular Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), and Alzheimer's.

And I can't help but wonder, what would Dr. House and his staff think? (Or rather, other experts, if Foreman, Cameron, & Chase are unavailable to comment).

I certainly would have no qualms seeing this film directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson receive an Academy Award nomination, I think that the more people who meet these patients, doctors and the bacteria through this film, the better. An Oscar nomination could help. There is plenty of room for discussion and this film creates the opportunity.

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