When you suffer from a chronic illness, your sexual life can involve a complicated mix of emotions and feelings. A lot of people who are diagnosed with chronic illness can feel loss and grief. In this episode of Sex, Love, and SuperPowers, host Tatiana Berindei is joined by Cindy Kennedy. Cindy is a Nurse Practitioner and has worked in women’s health for over 21 years. She practiced gynecology and has cared for thousands of patients ranging in age from 15-99. Listen in as Tatiana and Cindy find an integrative approach to health and treatment modalities to assist in cellular support, detoxification, and chronic diseases to improve your sexual life.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Sex, Love and SuperPowers podcast show. I am your host, Tatiana Berindei. and today my guest is Cindy Kennedy, and we are going to be talking about sex and chronic illness.
Let me tell you a little bit about Cindy before we dive into our conversation today. Cindy Kennedy is a Nurse Practitioner and has worked in women’s health for over 21 years. She practiced gynecology and has cared for thousands of patients ranging in age from 15 all the way to 99. Unbeknownst to her several years ago, she contracted Lyme’s disease. Her symptoms were subtle at first and then in 2011 her disease struck with a vengeance. Even as a knowledgeable healthcare professional struggles to find a cause became overwhelming. She came to feel the same sinking feeling that other Lyme sufferers must bear. The endless walk down the frightening path of misdiagnoses, shattered hope, and disappointment. With the love and support of her husband and three daughters, Cindy has made great strides in improving her health. Though she’s still reminded that she has lasting effects from the illness.
She’s passionate about providing education about Lyme disease, co-infections, treatment options, and most importantly Living with Lyme. Her podcast, Living with Lyme has offered expert advice from many sought after practitioners and researchers. Her compassionate education has given her the opportunity to open her own practice to find upstream reasons for chronic issues. She works alongside of her daughter, “Kerah”, who is a functional registered dietician with the same focus on care.
The Pursue Wellness Center is slated to open spring of 2020. It will offer an integrative approach to health and treatment modalities to assist in detoxification, cellular support, meditation, parasympathetic support, and the therapeutic yoga center.
Welcome to the show Cindy.
Well, thank you. Thank you for having me and that was a great introduction. I can’t wait to go to the center.
Yeah, it sounds great. Before we jump in here, will you tell our listeners what your superpowers are?
I had to think about this. I think that I’m fortunate enough that I just go about… It’s myself. My superpower is definitely humor. It takes out a lot of different forms. It’s also part of being compassionate. Sometimes just making the situation light when that person across the table from you is struggling. And just breaking that up a little bit with some silly face or some silly little words. I really feel that that is the biggest gift that God has given me and it’s just that giggle. It’s wonderful.
I think humor really is a power and is greatly healing. I remember hearing a story years ago about a man who was diagnosed with cancer and decided that he was just going to… He was given like three months or something. He decided he was just going to rent the funniest movies that he could find and just spend the rest of his days on the couch with his family laughing. And he ended up curing himself from cancer with just laughter.
Great. Great. It’s that positive. Yeah.
I don’t know that everyone would have the same outcome, and that wasn’t what he was necessarily going for. He thought he was dying, but there was something in the surrender and in the joy. I think it’s a really health-giving thing that laughter.
It is. It is. And you know, trying to use it appropriately. I’ve put my foot in my mouth a couple of times.
I’m sure. That’s part of… Well I think humor is really a skill, and I think we do have to shove our foot in there a few times to get what’s going to land well.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, especially when someone looks at you and all you want to go and say is, “Oh, bada boom, bada bang.”
Yeah. So, I was really intrigued to have you on the show because this is a topic that I haven’t covered at all. Most of this show is for people who either have an engaging sex life or who are struggling but more for emotional or communication reasons. And so, I was really curious to talk about what living with chronic illness and having a sexual life was like.
So, I guess I would just love to hear… We only have a few minutes before we have to go to a break. So, I’m trying to figure out like what’s the best way to dive into this conversation because I know it’s going to be deep and I don’t want to just like cut us off in the middle of something really important.
Maybe you could start out by telling us a little bit about your journey with Lyme’s and what were some of the most surprising elements to you in contracting this chronic illness?
Well, I guess I’m half the problem is finding that diagnosis because the whole time you feeling awful. And it’s kind of like Groundhog Day where you wake up and you think, “Oh, maybe tomorrow will be better.” And it’s exactly the same as the day before. And so there’s always that struggle personally and it really does change your personality. And for some people it’s a struggle neurologically and it’s a disconnect because Lyme can certainly affect the brain. And when you have that disconnect, it’s hard. You can’t even figure out sometimes if you’re coming or going and then you’re looking at your partner or your spouse. I mean, some people can hold their own for quite a while and then there are others that are like well when are you going to feel better? Because your crabby and your distant and things like that because you’re constantly focusing on how awful you feel. So, when you have somebody that has a cold or a belly bug or something, you know that they’re going to get better.
Right. You know there’s an end point.
… period of time. But when you’re struggling and the fatigue is incredible and you’re sleeping so much, it’s very difficult for your sex partner to kind of figure out like when to approach you for this. And I will tell you there’s a huge loss for people who suffer from Lyme for their own personal wellbeing as well as their support systems. People just kind of walk away, and they walk away because they probably don’t know what to do. They also walk away because they think you’re crazy. We’re all just like one insect bite away from a psychiatric diagnosis because we pretty much look well, but we aren’t well.
Yeah, I’ve heard about especially… I mean, this is kind of going in a different direction, but I know I’ve read some articles about, especially when women go into a doctor’s office complaining of symptoms, it can be really hard to even get the testing done because there’s more assumption that women are creating things psychosomatically and kind of in the medical field that there’s this like the hysteria of time’s gone by is still present in the medical psyche in terms of how we treat patients. And I’ve definitely seen that with Lyme’s. I mean, Lyme is huge in New England where you live and where I used to live. It’s almost like an epidemic issue at this point.
It’s a pandemic, but here it’s incredible. And mainstream medicine does not get it. They’re narrow-minded. They think it is a bacteria that a round of antibiotics will take care of. And they also think that the standard two tier testing is perfect, but it is not. It’s not specific enough. It’s sensitive enough. So people will go along their path after their doctor has said, “Well, your tests are negative.” And they’re unaware. Both these physicians, medical providers as well as these poor patients that these tests are not accurate. And so that’s where that big gap is.
Mm-hmm. Like I said, we do need to go to a quick break, but I really do want to dive into sort of navigating sexuality and romantic and intimate partnership while living with chronic illness when we get back.
Before we go to break, will you tell our listeners where they can go to find out more about you and your wellness center and your podcast and all that?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You can find us at pursuewellness.us. The wellness center is slated to open in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts come spring of 2020. My own podcast is located on every place you get your podcasts, but the website is livingwithlyme.us. Lots of resources. How to test a tick, not yourself, but where to send it. And it’s valuable because people who are looking for information can go to one place.
Awesome. Thank you so much. So, we’re talking with Cindy Kennedy about sex and chronic illness. More when we get back. Stay tuned.
To listen to the entire show click on the player above or go to the SuperPower Up! podcast on iTunes.
Music Credit: All instruments played by Amanda Turk. Engineered and produced by Tatiana Berindei and Daniel Plane reelcello.com