Does That Which Doesn’t Kill Us, Truly Make Us Stronger?

John Clark on something I discovered while campaigning last summer. I was on a back road in St. Albans when I met a gentleman who told me he had worked more than 30 years for a nearby school department, but was unable to continue because of what he believed to be chronic Lyme Disease. Since I knew at least two Mainers who had died as a result of this disease, I was interested to continue our conversation. His frustration (and that’s a pretty mild word for what he was feeling), centered around his lack of affordable health care, a complaint I was hearing multiple times a day. But his bigger issue was the difficulty in getting a satisfactory diagnosis. He said that getting a medical professional to admit that chronic Lyme Disease was real, was nearly impossible.

Before I left, he encouraged me to find and view a movie he felt summed up the frustration and lack of receptiveness he and many others similarly afflicted, had experienced. He gave me the name of the film and when I returned home, I looked it up. The accolades surprised me. They included best documentary at the Houston, Sonoma, Camden, Okamagen and Fargo film festivals, as well as best documentary in the health and media awards, among others.

The accolades from print and online reviewers, stretched way down the movie web page. Here are some I copied: “Like a well-made thriller, gets under your skin…more deeply terrifying than any slasher film you’ll ever see.” – Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post. “Scary enough to make the faint of heart decide never to venture into the woods.”- Stephen Holden, New York Times. “Fascinating…artful and compelling.” – Frank DiGiacomo, Vanity Fair. “Eye-opening…frightening, powerful stuff.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times. “Head-spinning…riveting…a rigorously researched and highly thorough piece of investigative reporting.” – Lauren Wissot, Slant Magazine. “Stirs the deepest emotions and reveals the most unsettling truth.” – Justin Berton, San Francisco Chronicle. “Very timely, as well as quite infuriating….takes what seems to be a straightforward subject…and turns it into a detective story, a romance, an inspirational drama, a conspiracy thriller and a science lesson, all in one.” – David Bianculli, TV Critic,

“Enlightening and alarming…Wilson takes us on a journey of discovery.” – Leonard Maltin, Film Critic.

I immediately ordered both Under Our Skin and the sequel, done seven years later, Emergence which tracks what happened following the first film. I made certain to purchase educational performance licensing copies so I could show them in public forums.

The first film is not for the faint of heart, nor for the complacent. You will meet people whose lives were essentially destroyed by ticks and who were then brutalized by healthcare professionals, the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies who paid for studies that were skewed. You’ll meet dedicated people who spent a huge amount of their own time trying to find out why the bacteria that caused Lyme Disease was able to hide for considerable periods of time before re-emerging to cause further destruction. You will meet at least one compassionate physician who lost his license to practice because he refused to stop treating his patients.

The second film might restore some hope that the first one killed. I was impressed and awed by the resolve many in both films demonstrated in the face of greed, arrogance and intransigence. Both films are available to borrow on interlibrary loan from several libraries in Mainecat ( We’re showing the first film at the Hartland Public Library (16 Mill Street, Hartland, ME 04943) on April 11th at 5 pm if you’re interested and able to join us. The sequel will be shown next month. If you’re interested in more about these films and relevant resources. here’s the link.

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3 Responses to Does That Which Doesn’t Kill Us, Truly Make Us Stronger?

  1. M. K. Waller says:

    Interesting. Have you read Amy Tan’s account of her experience with Lyme disease–undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, completely mishandled?

  2. Thank you, John, for this much-needed help in understanding the corruption that lies behind this public health disaster and the challenges involved in dealing constructively with it.

    Also, under-reported, in my view, is how difficult it is is to avoid ticks if you and/or your pet spend any time in woods, grass, parks or gardens or under trees, and how difficult it is to find bad ticks on your and/or your pet’s bodies once they take residence.

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