"The terrorist in my body has been found."
- Amy Tan, bestselling author
In the early 1970's, a mysterious new ailment was discovered among a group of children living around the town of Lyme, CT. What was first diagnosed as isolated cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, eventually became known as Lyme disease, a potentially serious illness triggered by spiral-shaped bacteria, similar to the organisms that cause syphilis. Today, cases of Lyme disease have been reported in all states. According to CDC estimates, as many as 200,000 people may have acquired the disease in 2004—more than cases of AIDS, West Nile Virus, and Avian Flu combined. Many of those untreated will suffer chronic debilitating illness. Some unknowingly will pass the disease on to their unborn children. And some may even die from their ailments. Entering the world of Lyme is to step into a confounding realm of chronic suffering, heated controversy. and unanswered questions
The first in-depth film about Lyme disease, UNDER OUR SKIN will be a feature-length documentary that takes viewers into the lives of Lyme sufferers struggling to find answers and a road back to health. We watch a set of diverse characters battle not only a disease, but what they see as a broken health care system. While the popular perception of Lyme disease is of a trivial joint-related problem easily cured with a few weeks of antibiotics, our characters tell a radically different story. They are forced to live with crushing fatigue, pain, and severe neurological problems for months to years, while searching for a diagnosis and effective treatment. As they visit specialist after specialist, many are told that their symptoms are stress related or "all in their heads.” Most are misdiagnosed for years with incurable conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's or ALS. And when these patients finally receive a Lyme diagnosis, they ask: Why are front-line physicians so unaware of classic Lyme symptoms and the true size of the epidemic? Why does it take the average Lyme patient more than four years and $60,000 to be diagnosed? Once diagnosed, why are many physicians and insurers refusing to treat sufferers? On the other hand, we hear from medical experts who insist Lyme disease has become an "epidemic of hysteria"--routinely over-diagnosed and over-treated, with grave risks to our antibiotic supply. The disconnect between the varying perceptions and experiences of Lyme disease is staggering.
Journeying deep into the microscopic and macrocosmic world of Lyme, UNDER OUR SKIN uncovers the profound human, scientific, and political dimensions of the disease. As the film delves into the personal lives of those who have been inalterably changed by Lyme, we interview experts on differing sides of the divide, revealing the extent of this human tragedy and offering hope to those suffering or yet to be diagnosed.