Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Is that a disease? If you don’t know, that’s Susan Douglas’ whole point to this documentary.
What we thought
Be prepared to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster through the very real disorder of Chronic Fatigue Syndrom (CFS). It’s almost hard to watch and not get a little sense of hypochondria! Imagine a cross between the film Outbreak and an episode of House. Douglas shines a narrow light on the sufferers within the UK and US and how they are stamped out by the health and insurance industries.
What its about
The history of CFS is shrouded in denial, mystery, and in some cases contempt. The phantom illness has effected hundreds of millions of people around the world. One statistic in the expose compares the infection rate of CFS to 10x that of HIV. Without a cause, cure, or conclusive evidence that it is even a physical ailment, the name CFS was given to promote the understanding of it being a psychological disorder.
Susan Douglas peels back the onion on the research related to the search for a cause. Stumbling accidently on a possible retrovirus that may cause the disorder, Judy Mikovits teamed up with Robert Silverman to establish the possible link with the XMRV virus. It’s at this point where the plot thickens. Douglas investigates the purported fraud, collusion, and other industrial forces that kept CFS from being recognized as a physical disease, a condition to be treatable and coverable by the medical and insurance systems.
The conclusions that are made are most certainly jaw-dropping. With a convincing appeal, it will make you lose a little faith in our governments and our health system, however much left you may have in them. On the flip side of the coin, one must watch with a little dose of skepticism as the film does take on a little bit of a conspiracy theorist vibe.
Should you watch?
If you can’t decide between a documentary and a medical mystery drama, What About ME? would be the film for you. It may not win any awards, but you will learn something and gain a little bit of sympathy for those that are lost in the machinery of the health system.