Eugenia Batista (aged 52) gave a thumbs up from his hospital bed after undergoing a 15-hour round-the-clock surgery to remove a potato that had been lodged in his lower mandible since infancy. Surrounded by family, friends, and well-wishers, he seemed in good cheer. Luckily, all vital signs were positive as Batista began a long and difficult recovering process.
“It was the most grueling experience of my life,” exclaimed Dr. Anthony Bermudez. The head surgeon of this groundbreaking procedure slumped into an office chair and wiped beads of sweat from his furrowed brow. “Brutal. We deployed 12 doctors, four anesthesiologists, 20 nurses, and six other specialists for the medical equivalent of an ultra-marathon. That potato had been integrated into the patient’s body for his entire life. It was basically a part of his jaw. But we got it out and he’s OK. That’s all that matters now.”
Colloquially termed “papa en la boca,” Batista suffered from a particularly bad case of potato-in-the-mouth disease. The primary symptom is speaking an almost unintelligible Spanish, where letters, syllables, and entire words are arbitrarily removed from common parlance, precluding other Latinos from understanding even the simplest statements.
“It’s endemic among Cubans and Cuban-Americans,” explained Dr. Elizabeth Marbury, a phonetic disease specialist. “Though Puerto Ricans and Dominicans also suffer gravely. It’s mostly hereditary—passed down from parent to child. But spending extended periods in afflicted communities will almost guarantee infection, even if one is not of Latino heritage.”
Batista’s recovery will be monitored closely, as this experimental surgery brings hope to millions in the Caribbean who suffer from this devasting linguistic malady.
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