Teflon Wife, Undercarriage Plumbing, And Some Tile

Cynthia is one hip chick.

At the end of last month (September), she and I traveled to Savannah, Georgia, for her to have hip replacement surgery. She had a lot of pain, and the need for surgery really became evident on our vacation to Medellin because she was unable to walk nearly as much as she would have liked.

A friend of ours had the surgery and recommended her surgeon in Savannah. The surgeon uses a newer approach to hip replacement, that is to make a relatively-small, four-inch incision at the front of the hip instead of a large incision at the back of the hip. A specially-designed operating table is used, where the legs can be independently lowered and pivoted to expose the, um, bone. Recovery is much, much quicker (weeks as opposed to months) and is less painful because there is much less damage to muscles and tissue.

But there were some complications. With this approach, most patients are in the hospital for a night or two, but Cyn was in the hospital for a week. Because Cynthia takes a blood thinner to keep her artificial heart valve from clogging, she needed four units of blood after the surgery as the bleeding wouldn’t stop. And keeping her blood pressure up in the range that supports life was a challenge for the medical team and quite stressful for me.

But all in all, the surgery was a success and her hip now moves like glass on Teflon, and we are back home in Panama after three-weeks away. This morning, twenty-five-days post surgery, Cyn made breakfast in our kitchen without the use of a walker or a cane. She still has a plenty of pain from where they worked on the bone, but it is lessening, and she is more- and more-frequently forgetting to use the cane.

Savannah is a lovely city, with the Spanish Moss hanging from the old oak trees. We stayed amidst antiques in a private home via airbnb.com, much better than fending for ourselves in a hotel.

Here is Cynthia eight-days post-op, sitting in the back yard:


Cyn had to climb four steps to get in or out of the house. Challenging, but she did it!

The trees are really, really big and old in Savannah. This one is in the front yard where we stayed:


While we were in Savannah, we took advantage of the opportunity to eat some really good food. Wiley’s Championship BBQ (voted fourth-best BBQ in the U.S.A.) was a treat, as was Joe’s Homemade, who’s motto is, “It’s that good, we promise.” Joe’s is Trip Advisor’s number one restaurant in Savannah. We filled in the remaining tummy spaces with meals from Saigon Bistro (best Vietnamese in Savannah) and Whole Foods. At Whole Foods, it was wonderful to have access to apple- or cherry-wood smoked, real, chemical-free bacon. Funny, after eating this nice bacon, one morning in the hospital I took a bite of the bacon on Cynthia’s breakfast tray. I couldn’t spit it out fast enough! It tasted rancid and chemical-laden. What a difference!

At first, Cyn needed a lot of help and I was her go-to guy. But gradually she is becoming more self-sufficient. Now she can shower, get in and out of bed by herself, and get dressed. In Savannah, she had four acupuncture treatments that helped greatly reduce the massive swelling and black-and-blue from all the fluids they had to give her to raise her blood pressure.

And as a bonus, for the first time in eleven years, Cynthia and one of her nieces got to see each other; her niece and her husband traveled from North Carolina for the reunion. Here is a photo for the family to see:


Cyn is a little more than one-week post op in this photo. Still swollen but standing on her own.

So not much has been accomplished on the house in the last month.

Hanibal returned for three days this week to install more tile. We now have the guest bathroom floor tiled:


I marked and cut the stack of tiles, preparing them for Hanibal to mortar into place along the wall of the container.

Plus two-thirds of the master bathroom floor:


And with the perimeter tiles cut and installed:


There is an easy way to mark a tile for cutting so that it accurately fits against the wall. First, place a tile on top of the last full tile, like this:


Next, place another full tile against the wall and mark the tile that you want to cut. Leave a little space between the top tile and the mark to allow for a grout line. Like this:


Next, cut the along the line and drop the tile into place. It will fit perfectly even if the wall or tiles are out of square.

One day while I was waiting for Hanibal to return, I installed baseboards in the kitchen and the under-stair half-bath. I cut some of the kitchen floor tiles down the middle, cut the pieces to length, and using urethane caulk, glued them to the walls and cabinets. Armando grouted between the floor and baseboards, and I ran a bead of the appropriate color caulk along the top of the baseboards (in the case of the next photo, gray caulk):


I guess I get points for accurate estimating. With the kitchen floor and baseboards all done, I have four tiles remaining.

And with the bathroom baseboards in place, I no longer had any excuse not to install the toilet in this bathroom.

So I spent several hours in the crawlspace and installed PVC pipe from the toilet to the septic tank. While I was at it, I also plumbed the drain for the bathroom sink. After not much work in the past month, wow was I sore all over the next couple of days:


The larger tubing is the toilet drain. The smaller tubing is the air vent that will have to run up the outside of the container. 

By the way, in the States I had a business where I applied physics to solve air, heat, and moisture problems in houses. I spent many, many days, weeks, and months in crawlspaces, so working under this house is no problem. Except I’m older now. I guess it helps keep me fit, but it sure is a challenge for Sr. Arthritis. And oh my, the shoulder and abdominal muscles scream bloody murder for the next few days!

With all the drain and water supply pipes now in place, I just need to find an hour or two to install the toilet and hook up the sink. Lynn in Ohio and Christine in Oregon stay tuned!

In the yard, we returned to lush ground cover by the front steps. And the bamboo screen at the kitchen window has greened up nicely:


That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.

19 thoughts on “Teflon Wife, Undercarriage Plumbing, And Some Tile

  1. The pictures on this post are beautiful! Especially the one of Cynthia w/ her niece. You are looking gorgeous Cynthia! – Much love, Rebecca

  2. I recently learned about “Air Admittance Valves”, which eliminate the need for vents on plumbing.

    I like all your tile choices.

  3. Wow, quite an operation, but happy to see Cynthia looking PRETTY darn good for all the pain …however, I guess Savannah food didnt hurt either!
    Love your choice of tile … everywhere … What a house to be proud of. Bravo! Saludos
    Patricia back in Florida briefly

    • Hi Patricia,

      Good to hear from you. Yes, Cynthia is looking pretty. And darn good. When we weren’t breaking the budget in restaurants, I was charged with making tasty meals at home. In addition to the Whole Foods bacon, we thoroughly surveyed the selection of fresh sausages, and I made fun food such as broiled sweet potato slices, tossed in coconut oil and seasoned with smoked salt. Many nights I made fresh balsamic cole slaw, the raw veges good to counteract the “binding” effect of the pain meds. As always, thanks for your comment. Fred

  4. ROFLMAO at your reply to Christine , great pics and wishing Cynthia a speedy recovery , does this mean back to the occasional horse riding again , all the best Mike

  5. Thank you all for your well wishes. Indeed it was an unexpected ordeal in many ways, but even with the healing discomforts, I was in less pain second day post-op than before the surgery. I will be delighted when the healing is complete and I can start my walks/exercise routines again. I highly recommend my surgeon, his staff, and the hospital (except their food – blech!) where the surgery was performed. If you’d like the contact information, I’ll be happy to share it with you. Yes, it’s all been worth it!

  6. Hi dear Friends,
    So glad to hear Cyn is doing so well after the hip replacement, and that doctor and procedure sounds much less intimidating than the usual ones here. I guess you can just chalk up “a sabbatical in Georgia” for the time spent away from the demands of house building, and hopefully it gave time for your Sr. Arthritis to have a sabbatical, too. Seems so close but yet so far to have you two in Georgia–too bad it wasn’t closer to CO, or I would have come to visit you. Cyn, you are one strong and courageous woman, and I’m sending you love and good healing wishes. Miss you both, my friends.

    • Hi Maria,
      Thanks so much. And happy belated birthday!

      Although I probably wouldn’t make Savannah my first choice as a place to live, many would and do, and I can see why. It was a very pleasant place to take a sabbatical, if you don’t count the stress of Cyn’s recovery. I wish we had been able to see more of the area. Thanks again for your comment. Fred

  7. Fred and Cynthia, congratulations on your recovery. Sorry to hear of your troubles. The flooring looks wonderful what a beautiful home. looking forward to your every post.


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