Padma Lakshmi got ‘really pissed’ at her doctors after her endometriosis surgery

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Padma Lakshmi covers the September issue of Women’s Health to promote her new food show, Taste the Nation. I’ve read some great reviews of Taste the Nation, basically calling it a political show with food, and that Padma leans into the politics of the current and historical immigrant experience in America. In the interview, Padma talks about the show, her endometriosis, and how women are usually the family cooks. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

On her quarantine Instagram cooking videos: “I’m very fluid with my cooking. I’m not a formally trained chef. But because I’ve been judging people for over a dozen years on television, I was afraid people wouldn’t be down with me doing this kind of ad hoc cooking [in my videos]. I’ll say, ‘Normally we use red onions in this, but I’m using shallots because that’s all I have,’ and I think that’s useful information for viewers.”

On improvising in cooking: “The professional food world is dominated by men. But most of the actual cooking of food in the world is done by women. And we women have always had to make do with whatever we can. We’re a little bit like water—we find our way because we’ve had to.”

On eating upwards of 7,000 to 8,000 calories a day while judging ‘Top Chef’: “Those chefs are cooking to win, so they’re putting in as much lard and butter and salt as they can.”

Her surgery to remove scar tissue from endometriosis: “At first, I was relieved. It wasn’t until a year after the surgery that I started getting really pissed. Like, ‘Wait a minute, I lost a week of my life every month of every year since I was 13 because of this sh-t, and I could have had this operation at 20 rather than 36?’ I’m shocked that a health professional didn’t say, ‘This is weird. Your cramps are above and beyond what they should be.’”

She came up with ‘Taste the Nation’ following the 2016 election: “I was always self-referring to my own immigrant story, and I kind of got sick of talking about myself. I started trying to find and understand the stories of other immigrants, to prove my political points. Taste the Nation is about exploring American food and how it evolves, and using food to get into a community. Because for so many of us in America, other people are deciding our narrative. Other people are telling our story in a more amplified way than we’re able to because we all don’t have access to that megaphone.”

Amplifying BLM: “I can never fully know what it is like to walk in the shoes of another minority, but I can use my own experience as a starting point to offer a platform to those who haven’t had it and most deservedly should. The only good that can come from this period of deep struggle and pain in America is a greater understanding of each other. We need every voice to play a part in making our country more inclusive.”

[From Women’s Health]

The part about her surgery hit me hard: “‘I could have had this operation at 20 rather than 36?’ I’m shocked that a health professional didn’t say, ‘This is weird. Your cramps are above and beyond what they should be.’” It’s remarkable how UNremarkable that story has become as more celebrity women talk about their health and healthcare. Nearly every woman has a story about a doctor minimizing their pain, misdiagnosing them or simply being bad at their jobs. And it happens to women consistently, especially about their gynecological needs or reproductive systems. It’s almost like the medical profession has always been tied to men and male-dominated politics, where “being in pain” is seen as simple part of the female experience.

And this: “Because for so many of us in America, other people are deciding our narrative. Other people are telling our story in a more amplified way than we’re able to because we all don’t have access to that megaphone.” See also: the Bon Appetit mess, where white people were running amok and “inventing” other cultures’ recipes and taking credit for it.

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Photographed by Tyler Joe for Women’s Health, sent from promotional Women’s Health email.

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24 Responses to “Padma Lakshmi got ‘really pissed’ at her doctors after her endometriosis surgery”

  1. nicegirl says:

    Padma telling real truths here! I’m with you my endo sisters.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Same. Luckily my dear daughter was diagnosed at 15 ( diagnostic laparoscopy), and while still having some trouble, she at least knows that her pain and associated symptoms are real, and that there are treatments that can offer relief.
      I wish my sister and I had that opportunity.

    • North of Boston says:

      Absolutely!

    • Dazed and Confused says:

      Same. I was told at 16 that you couldn’t get endo when you were young. It took me until 35 to have my first surgery. So much unnecessary pain.

  2. Skyblue says:

    Amen! I was 42 when I was finally diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis. Apparently my uterus is matted down and immobile. Ugh

    • C-Shell says:

      It sucks. I struggled with endo and fibroid tumors for years, had laparoscopic surgery twice and everything kept “growing” back, so had to have a hysterectomy at 38 (never married at that point). The dr saved my ovaries, but a year after I got married at 41, I had to have them removed because they were consumed by endometriosis. That those years didn’t turn me into an addict is miraculous.

  3. Ginger says:

    I don’t particularly like Padma but I’m loving everything she’s saying here. Also, I never realized before how articulate she is. I’m looking forward to checking out her new show.

    • Tom says:

      I don’t know about endometriosis but I love Padma and am very happy to hear about her new show.

      Have you caught the immigrant community cooking show on PBS hosted by Marcus Samuelson, the Ethiopian chef who grew up in Sweden? Great show and making a real contribution to the national conversation about the benefits of welcoming immigrants to the United States.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I think that show is No Passport Required. I also like The Migrant Kitchen on PBS.

      • North of Boston says:

        I love No Passport Required. It, like No Reservations before, it is an aware, open minded antidote to Movable Feast (where the self-important host ‘discovers’ local cuisines and inserts himself into the narrative), and some other PBS show (Globe Trekkers, maybe?) where a handful particular kind of entitled 20-somethings travel the globe and basically go “eeewww!” to anything that’s not bologna on Wonder Bread.

        No Passport Required is not only respectful of a variety of chefs, cuisines and heritages, the host is genuinely curious and excited about learning something new.

  4. Jen says:

    So true and sad about the doctors not listening. It took an older me to finally stand up and say this is right, and to advocate for myself. I had a niece who had to undergo a 5 hour surgery for scar tissue due to endometriosis. She ended up with a hysterectomy too. All after years of the doctors not believing how much pain she was in.

  5. C says:

    Read women’s stories, listen to their folklore, highlight their deftness at seamlessly navigating our societies. Not every woman is promoting feminism or equality, many times women are upholding patriarchal norms (FGM, dowries, youth marriage, shame around sexual freedom, child rearing techniques etc) BUT the struggle is still there. And its a struggle all women face, whether it be getting a competent doctor or being classed as a competent chef.

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I love her show. It’s perfect timing all the way around. I’m always telling my boys who to thank for what’s thought of as American food. Most of our dishes originated from other countries. Hopefully the people who truly need this information are watching. Imagine renaming your creation to hot dog in order to stay alive and in business.

  7. Melissai says:

    I love Taste the Nation. It’s a great slice of American life. It truly highlights how the food we eat is so rooted in immigration. It also showcases how a lot of food was Americanized but chefs are reclaiming the original recipes and cooking styles.

  8. Hello says:

    Love Padma!!!! Been a longtime fan of Top Chef. Was so excited to hear she was launching new show. Love it, too!! I can’t “watch” politics – I read plenty of it probably too much for my health – but can’t watch or listen to even a minute of it. The show’s political commentary is sandwiched inside of “stories” – people just talking – and it really humanizes it allowing me to appreciate the solidarity I feel with her and others views but not feel so jazzed up or frustrated/angry with the opposition, so to speak. Saddened by lack of enlightenment but not wanting to break the TV.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Doctors ignoring women’s pain is REAL and kills. Even a wealthy person like Padma can be affected. More so for women of color or Black women.

    Even my mother, who’s white, told me of doctors giving her such painful vaginal swabs that she just stopped going. That’s so sad to me.

  10. L says:

    Having lived through endometriosis, I 100% understand what she means. And to boot, my dad was an OB/GYN and it took years for me to get proper treatment. In the end, I went to the surgeon who treated Padma, and I’m not understating it when I say he saved my life.

  11. GR says:

    I’m glad she’s saying something about endo – I dealt with with agony every month for 3.5 decades and no doctor ever paid attention, much less did anything.

  12. FruitFields says:

    This!! I JUST had this surgery Aug. 12 & it is done laparoscopic w a small incision in my bellybutton & lower abdomen & had minimal pain & was back to work Monday (had it the previous Weds!) my mom is a nurse & if she hadn’t told me to tell my OBGYN I had pain w sex (the equivalent to chest pains in the ER) in order to get it done AT ALL & be covered by insurance – I wouldn’t be able to say I’m 100% better! I’m 36 btw.

  13. paranormalgirl says:

    I’m a doctor. I was appalled fairly recently when I went to the ER for severe cramping (so bad I couldn’t wait to see my GYN) and was told it was “just a bad period” and I should take midol and put a warm compress on my abdomen. Dude, I KNOW from bad periods. This wasn’t one, especially since I’m in peri-menopause and dude, I went to med school, just like you. In fact, I did a dual residency and they are not common (at least they weren’t back in the stone age when I went to med school with Hippocrates). For that man to dismiss my complaint that something was wrong (turned out to be a cyst, it was removed, and I’m blissfully sailing back into menopause). If that can happen to me, a medical professional, I can only imagine how often it happens to other women.

  14. Jaded says:

    I once went to a male gyn because I thought my IUD was coming out. I had serious pain and could feel a sharp pointy thing in my cervix. He examined me, pulled out a shard of plastic that was embedded in my cervix and said….I kid you not….”Have you been using sharp implements during sex?” I looked at the piece of plastic in his hand and said…”It’s a piece of tampon applicator that must have snapped off when I had my last period.” I got off the table and stormed out and never went back to him again. Ironically he became a client of my then husband’s a few years later (he was a lawyer) and I had to have him and a couple of other clients over for dinner one night. Fortunately he didn’t recognize me. I should have put a sharp piece of plastic in his food.

  15. Cloudy says:

    I don’t know much about endometriosis but sympathies to those have it. Posting to share I used to get period pain regularly but started on a very high quality magnesium supplement, taken daily, about five years back. Never had to take for-period pain relief since then, from day one of starting on magnesium.

  16. North of Boston says:

    A friend of mine had surgery because of severe endometriosis, after suffering severe, debilitating periods for years. Less than a year after surgery, she started to have severe pain in her upper abdomen, which felt very much like the pain she’d had previously with endometriosis in other parts of her abdomen. She went to the same doctor who had performed her surgery, who had seen the extent of her endometriosis. He listened to her complaint and completely dismissed it “You can’t POSSIBLY have endometriosis there! Not unless you stand on your head all day” and told her to take some Midol and get over herself.

    Eventually, after being debilitated, again, for at least a week every month … being in so much pain she couldn’t function, she sought a second opinion, with a doctor who agreed to perform a second surgery. Yup, endometriosis again, with lesions throughout her upper abdomen. He got much of it out, and finally prescribed birth control to manage it (the battle with her insurance company to get that paid for … something required MEDICALLY for her to even function … is a whole ‘nother saga)

    She was unable to ever have children because of how long it took to diagnosis and treat it in the first place, and was in needless pain for a long time, even after her initial diagnosis, because a supposed ‘specialist’ in endometriosis couldn’t imagine it could be somewhere other than her pelvis.

  17. Velvetess says:

    My sister suffered with endometriosis until her hysterectomy last year, at the age of 39, and it took ten years of pleading with her doctor.
    Here in Australia women can’t their tubes tied unless we’ve had kids or are pushing 40, yet men can have the snip at any age.
    Lastly, I confided to my long time female family doctor after baby #2 that my libido was zero and my now ex-hubby wasn’t happy about it. Her advice wasn’t what I was expecting…. was ‘be “available” to him whenever he wants’. I was speechless at the time, but after the fact angry, as all I was seeking was understanding and support. These are highly educated people that influence others every day with their health decisions. There should be a place to report them so that other women never have the misfortune of being their patient. The medical field is still deeply misogynistic.

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