The Origins of Muffin Man


6:22 p.m. October 12, 1994, San Diego California
Surgery Rotation, University of California, San Diego Medical School

The previous day began in post-op clinic listening to liver transplant patients with booze on their breath lie about how they have not been drinking. It ended with my supporting the huge flank of a morbidly obese woman who could not fit on even the extra-large operating room table for a marathon operation to remove a lump in her breast. There were many obesity-related complications. Overnight call brought a new day which began at 2:04 a.m. with an operation to clean up an infected wound on the ass of an heroin addict and ended with another day in clinic cleaning diabetic stasis wounds and having obese patients with all sorts of problems ignore my advice to exercise and lose weight.

That evening as I sat numb in front of my apartmentís television screen, a snippet of a documentary about ancient Rome penetrated the fog of my day. It described how Mount Vesuvius had erupted so suddenly that its lava had captured people in the midst of everyday activities. These citizens and the details of their lives had been memorialized in the lava-hardened stone. Bitterly, I thought that if a mountain were to erupt and catch our society unawares, all of us would be doing the same thing - sitting on our asses in front of a television. And most of us would be very fat.

This was the spark that generated the film Muffin Man, and I am sad to say that despite the wonderful technological and humanitarian advances our society has achieved, physically we seem to be headed the way of the dodo bird. This film was created as a comedy not only to get people to watch it, but also to start a dialogue - among not just scientists, but the common man - about what we can do to reverse the trend.

JD Eisner, M.D., 17 July 2003


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