Friday, December 3, 2010

The Color of Lyme

   This YouTube video is the theatrical trailer for the movie "Under Our Skin". The movie is a gripping tale of microbes, medicine and money. It exposes the hidden story of Lyme disease, one of the most controversial and fastest growing epidemics of our time. Each year, thousands go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, often told that their symptoms are "all in their head". Under Our Skin follows the stories of patients and physicians fighting for their lives and livelihoods. The film bring into focus a chilling picture of the health care system and a medical establishment all too willing to put profits before patients. A lot of the issue with the health care system we are reading about in the book Overtreated. 
   Here are some reviews of the movie Under Our Skin:

"EXCELLENT FILMMAKING...stunning cinematography! Will grab your attention and hold it from start to finish." Jennifer Merin,

"Stirs the deepest emotions and reveals the most unsettling truth." Justin Berton, San Francisco Chronicle.

"Head-spinning...riveting...rigorously researched." Lauren Wissot, Slant Magazine.

"Like a well-made thriller, get under your skin." Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post.


   The first records of Lyme-like diseases began appearing in Europe in 1883. It wasn’t until 1975 that the disease was coined as Lyme disease, later changed from Lyme Arthritis. Alan Steere, a rheumatologist of Yale University, studied patients in Lyme, Connecticut who had similar cases of rashes and swollen joints. The symptoms that Steere found could not be found in any other known illnesses, so Lyme disease was discovered. In the time from 1883 to 1975 there were many others cases of people who had similar symptoms, but they were mostly misdiagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or other closely related diseases. ( 

      One of the origins of Lyme disease was first discovered in 1921 by Swedish dermatologist, Arvid Afzelius. He found that the ring-like disease’s origin was known as the Ixodes Scapularis tick and connected the disease to joint pain. A survey of microorganisms from 1981 showed that a tick-borne spirochete was responsible for both the European and American syndromes. Dr. Willy Burgdorfer, an entomologist with the United States Rocky Mountain Laboratories of the National Institutes of Health, discovered the spirochete. The spirocetes were named Borreilia burgdorferi  and coined as the main causes of Lyme disease. It wasn't until 1988 that the Lyme Disease Foundation was founded and there was a major push to bring Lyme Disease into the national and global spotlight. ( 

   Lyme Disease has been called the great imitator of our century because many people are misdiagnosed with diseases that have similar symptoms to Lyme. Some diseases that they are misdiagnosed with include; Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Raynaud's Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Scleroderma, lupus, early Alzheimers, ALS, many types of arthritis, including but not limited to Rheumatoid, Osteo and Juvenile arthritis; Interstitial Cystitis, GERD, irritable bowel disease, Bell's Palsy, Colitis, Fifth Disease, psychiatric disorders, seizures, Gulf war syndrome, ADHD, Parkinson's Disease, and hypochondria. ( 

   The Centers for Disease Control reported over 35,000 cases last year, but because it is so often over looked they admit that the actual number is 12 times higher, making Lyme more prevalent than AIDS. 

West Nile = 1,300 cases
HIV/AIDS = 39,000 cases
Lyme = 35,000 to 420,000 cases
("Under Our Skin" movie) 


   A thorough list of symptoms that can occur with Lyme from (with all of these symptoms it's easy to see why Lyme disease can be misdiagnosed for something else): 


Cognitive Symptoms

  • Brain fog
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Declining school performance
  • Facial recognition difficulties
  • Memory impairment/word retrieval difficulties
  • Going to the wrong place
  • Slurred speech
  • Word reversals when speaking


  • Vision loss
  • Choroiditis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Floaters
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Unexplained pain in eyes
  • Hypersensitivity to light
  • Scleritis (inflammation of the sclera, the white part of the eye)

Neurologic System

  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulties in coordination
  • Alzheimer like presentation
  • Demyelinating lesions or multiple sclerosis-like presentation
  • Dizziness
  • Encephalitis
  • Guillain-Barre’ syndrome  (immune system attacks parts of peripheral nervous system)
  • Hemiparesis  (muscle weakness on only one side of the body)
  • Numbness, tingling or burning
  • Parkinson-like presentation
  • Head pressure
  • Seizures
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor short term memory
  • Word recall problems
  • Disorientation
  • Shooting or stabbing pains
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hypersensitivity to smells
  • Hypersensitivity to tastes
  • Tremors/shaking
  • Vertigo
  • Walking difficulty
  • Poor balance

Gastrointestinal System

  • Abdominal pain or upset stomach
  • Abdominal distention
  • Anorexia
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney failure
  • Nausea
  • Urinary problems (irritable bladder, frequent urination)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss or gain

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Behavioral changes
  • Depression
  • Overly emotional reactions
  • Hallucinations
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Nightmares
  • Paranoia
  • Rage or violent outbursts


  • Hypersensitivity to sound
  • Hearing loss
  • Meniere’s disease (inner ear disorder causing  vertigo, tinnitus, fullness, or pressure)
  • Unexplained pain in ears
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)


  • ACA (Acrodermatitis chronic atrophicans)
  • Anetoderma
  • Baker’s cyst
  • Fibrous nodules
  • Lymphocytoma
  • B-cell Lymphoma (skin cancer)
  • Petechia (small spots of bleeding under skin)
  • Rash (EM, Maculopapular, malar, hives)
  • Skin sclerosis – scleroderma
  • Unexplained hair loss


  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Unexplained facial or dental pain
  • Headaches
  • Hoarseness
  • Jaw pain, stiffness or TMJ
  • Facial twitching or muscle spasms
  • Neck pain, stiffness, pressure or creaking
  • Numbness or tingling of the face
  • Sore throat
  • Swallowing difficulty

Respiratory and Circulatory Systems

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Carditis (inflammation of the pericardium, myocardium, or endocardium)
  • Shortness of breath

Musculoskeletal System

  • Backache, back pain
  • Bone pain, erosion, osteomyelitis (acute or chronic bone infection)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cartilage erosion
  • Cervical pain
  • Foot pain
  • Gout
  • Hand stiffness
  • Herniated disc
  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling (arthritis)
  • Muscle pain (myalgia or fibromyalgia)
  • Tendonitis


  • Chills
  • Stiffness
  • Increased thirst

Reproduction Systems

  • Impotence
  • Testicular or pelvic pain/swelling
  • Unexplained milk production
  • Loss of libido/sexual disfunction
  • Unexplained breast pain