KIM’S NOTES:  I plan on attending the November 8th, 2PM show.  Please come and bring ten of your friends!  We need to fill every seat! //Kim


WEBWIRE – Monday, October 26, 2009
Contact Information
Monique Dubos
Event manager
Minnesota Lyme Action Support Group

Minnesota Film Arts is proud to present the Lyme disease documentary “Under Our Skin,” co-sponsored by the Minnesota Lyme Action Support Group. Show days and times are: November 8, 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm, and November 9 and 10, 7:30 p.m., at the Oak Street Cinema, 309 Oak St in Minneapolis. The Event is Part of an Effort to Pass Legislation to Allow Patients to Choose Long-term Lyme Disease Antibiotic Therapy

The screenings are part of an effort to raise awareness and help pass Minnesota Senate bill SF1631, which will allow patients with Lyme disease other tick-borne diseases and their doctors– not insurance companies – to decide what treatment protocol to follow.

Jordan Fisher Smith, who tells his own harrowing story in the film, will emcee the Nov 8 and 9 showings. State legislators Ray Vandeveer and John Ward will talk briefly about the legislation before the shows on Nov 8. Dr. Elizabeth Maloney, MLASG medical consultant, will be on hand for questions after all screenings. Jordan Fisher Smith and Dr. Maloney will be available to media 45 minutes before show times, or by appointment.

Lyme disease is a complex disease with complicated issues surrounding it. Here are some of the basics:

* Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the United States. Minnesota ranks 8th, with 1,282 cases reported in 2008.
* The CDC estimates the number to be ten times that, making LD bigger than West Nile and Avian flu combined.
* 1 in 3 deer ticks in Minnesota carry the Lyme bacteria, according to the MN Dept of Health.
* Lyme cases have spiked 450% in Minnesota from 1998 – 2008.
* Tests for LD are highly inaccurate and result in false negatives; insurance companies then use these results to deny care.
* Patients are often denied much-needed antibiotic treatment by doctors who are misinformed about the disease or fear reprisal from state medical boards.
* Each year thousands go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, told that their symptoms are “all in their head.”

“Under Our Skin” follows patients and physicians as they battle for their lives and livelihoods, bringing into focus a haunting picture of our health care system and its inability to cope with a silent terror under our skin.

The Minnesota Lyme Action Support Group is a non-profit organization working toward increased awareness and prevention of Lyme disease, as well as much-needed research into the causes and complications of tick-borne diseases.

The Minnesota Lyme Action Support Group also provides educational opportunities for physicians, advocacy for patients, information on tick-borne diseases, and support to those infected with Lyme disease.

UOSA movie review for Under Our Skin.

Under Our Skin

By Megan Lehar • September 25, 2009

Under Our Skin

Directed by:  Andy Abrahams Wilson
Cast: Dana, Mandy, Jordan
Running Time: 1 hr 45 min
Rating: Unrated
Release Date: September 26, 2009

PLOT: An exploration of Lyme Disease from the point of view of people afflicted with the disease as well as doctors who’ve dedicated their career to helping Lyme patients in unorthodox manners.

WHO’S IT FOR? Anyone except hypochondriacs.  I’m not joking, any undiagnosed aches and pains will suddenly become Lyme disease.

EXPECTATIONS: I was hoping for a well balanced documentary that made an interesting case for why Lyme disease is an “epidemic.”


Mandy as herself:  Mandy’s a newlywed, with advanced Lyme disease.  She’s only 29 at the start of the film but she has trouble with movement, including walking.  Lyme disease has changed her whole life, and it’s taken over her husband’s life as well.  Though she’s a small part of a larger film, her willingness to share the indignities of her disease is beautifully brave.
Score:  9

Jordan:  A former park ranger turned author, Jordan actually got diagnosed with Lyme disease at an early stage.  Nevertheless, he’s been afflicted for years.  Jordan has chronic Lyme disease, a diagnosis that’s controversial.  He has to travel across the country to find a doctor willing to treat him.  Literally, he flies from Nevada to New York for treatment.  But he’s finding a way to make his life work.  I admit, the stories of these people afflicted with a disease that doctors won’t even agree of the existence of is really heartrending.  Though we only see Jordan for a small part of the film, you admire his courage for being part of this film.
Score:  8

Dana as herself:  Dana has an awesome job, she works as a promoter on the U2 tour.  Unfortunately, she’s also in constant pain.  She seems really in control,  until you realize how badly she’s allowed her disease to get out of control.  Dana talks to the camera in such an honest and direct manner you can’t help but admire her.  Have you ever tried to grade the performance of a person with a disease opening themselves up on camera?  Yeah, try that sometime. She gets a …
Score:  9

TALKING: Despite occasional medical jargon, the filmmakers do a great job of making a difficult topic understandable.  This film deals with some difficult issues, mainly why the medical community at large refuses to accept Lyme Disease as a chronic illness despite the evidence of hundreds of people afflicted with the disease.  The fact that they can make this relatable and understandable is very impressive.
Score:  8

SIGHTS: Under Our Skin must have had a decent budget because it looks great.  The scenes filmed on location look good and there’s some nice illustrative animation.  I’m really surprised, looking as good as it does, that they didn’t get a wider release.
Score:  8

SOUNDS: The music is decent, the sound is good … and that’s all I have to say about that.
Score:  7


BEST SCENE: I really enjoyed finally hearing about why the medical establishment refused to accept Lyme Disease as  a chronic condition.  It felt like a great gotcha moment in a thriller rather than a revelation in a documentary.

ENDING: I didn’t think it was possible but it did end on a hopeful note.  But the moment it was done I wanted to know where everyone was right now.  To say they won me over completely was an understatement.

QUESTIONS: How can you believe these people are imagining their symptoms?  Why is the medical establishment willing to let people suffer?  Isn’t there a way around this bureaucracy?

REWATCHABILITY: Remember what I said at the beginning about not watching this if you’re a hypochondriac?  I take it back, I would totally show this to a hypochondriac, it would be hilarious.


At the end of last year I reviewed Indestructible, a film about a man suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Though that film was about a single man struggling with a disease, the two films have a lot of overlap.  Under Our Skin looks at Lyme Disease from the perspective of patients, individual doctors and the medical establishment.  It’s the rare film that speaks with high ranking people from the opposing side (doctors who claim that Lyme Disease is easily treatable and not chronic) and come out fighting.  I can’t say I was totally impassive, it didn’t take me long before I was completely sympathetic for the patients.  But despite their stories, the film still believes in making it’s case.  Wilson has done a wonderful job, and I can only hope his next film gets a wider release.



Photo: Paul Chinn / The Chronicle

Photo: Paul Chinn / The Chronicle

Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer, jberton@sfchronicle.com September 14, 2009

The first question filmmaker Andy Abrahams Wilson hears about his latest documentary: Lyme disease? Really?

Wilson’s “Under Our Skin,” which screens Friday at San Francisco’s Sundance Kabuki Cinema, has managed to transform the unlikely topic of a bacterial infection into a critical hit on the festival circuit.

The film is also credited with reigniting a discussion about the merits of Lyme, an ailment that’s been largely misunderstood – or flat out denied – by the medical establishment. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 35,000 new cases of Lyme disease last year, a 71 percent increase over the past two years, which means new Lyme cases are almost as prevalent as new HIV cases (39,000). Because Lyme tests are inaccurate and cases go unreported, one CDC estimate put the true number of current cases at 300,000.

“If this were HIV or West Nile virus,” Wilson said, “we’d be doing everything we could.”



Leslie Wermers July 7, 1967 -November 2, 2008

I will never forget your warm and loving nature. EVER.  Lyme Disease may have stolen your body, but not your soul.

For more about Leslie and her sister, Tracie…go to www.lymefighters.org