Friday, July 17, 2009

Lyme in Primetime

The Avon’s screening of Under Our Skin on Wednesday night drew a sold out crowd. When the director, Andy Abrahams, polled the audience to see how many had been impacted directly by Lyme disease, my husband and I – who took a more academic interest – were shocked at the sea of hands.

The film profiled the disease by following some of the people most hard hit by it. For instance, Mandy Hughes, a Sea World animal trainer, suffered heartbreaking episodes of physical ticks and palsy. Dana Walsh, part of U2’s promotional crew, seemed fine to observers but experienced unyielding pain. Jordan Fisher Smith, a forest ranger, lived through such debilitating symptoms that he contemplated suicide. Mr. Abrams opened the film by explaining his intention to promote awareness of the disease and the faltering health care system. The buzz that kept us in our seats during the Q&A and that spilled onto the street afterward suggests that he accomplished his goal.

Critics characterized the film as either a nail biting horror story or a Michael Moore-esque docu-drama. What none of the reviews captured, and what was pointed out by resident expert and star, Dr. Charles Ray Jones, was that the story ended with optimism. The Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, is pushing successfully for a reexamination of the controversial medical standards. Researchers are approaching a better understanding of the complicated illness. In addition to pain and politics, the movie shows the viewer a lot of healing. The film has something to say that is terrifying and enlightening, but pay attention to the end. It hides a trace amount of hope.

Event photo featuring Director Andy Abrahams (left) and Dr. Charles Ray Jones (right) courtesy of Ben Gancsos,www.bengancsos.com.

1 comment:

Whitemist said...

Thee seem to be many sides to this story and a lot of emotion. The disease was much worse when it was not recognized and people developed all the horrible complications. The doctors still need education, many do not even follow the minimal CDC guideline on recognition, still relying on blood tests that can be plain wrong. And always remember that there is more than just Lyme out there and that gets forgotten as well.