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There was something about Bill Rathbun. The touch of desperation in his voice, the photos and papers he lugged with him to prove his point.

He had the look of a guy cursed with the Cassandra syndrome to tell the truth and never be believed.

Rathbun believes he has something called chronic Lyme disease (see cover story, starting on p. 14). But he's had a hard time getting treatment. That's because, although a few doctors believe chronic Lyme is very real, and very dangerous, the mainstream medical community doesn't think it exists.

Across the country, chronic Lyme disease is the subject of intense debate, pitting doctors against doctors, and leaving patients wondering whom to believe. It's especially hard to gauge who's telling the truth when you consider how much money and how many reputations are riding on each point of view. And while doctors duke it out over what kind of damage the Lyme bacteria can wreak in the human body, patients like Rathbun watch from the sidelines, sick as hell.

For their sake, and for all our sakes, let's hope doctors will come to work together, combine their knowledge, and fight not for their own best interests, but for the best medicine.

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