Todd is a recently retired Saunders Secondary School teacher. He loves sports, drives a Camry, and thoroughly enjoys discussing modern history. He’s soft spoken, enjoys a great joke, and has a velvet smooth radio voice. Todd also became my source of comfort while I was experiencing one of the most unsettling situations of my life.
In September of 2017 I was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia. In October I drove to Shouldice Hospital in Toronto as I was told they were the world leader in hernia repair, only to be told by a surgeon there that I had to lose at least 50lbs before they would operate. My weight loss has been well documented in our club, my goal was reached within 3 months, and I drove down to Shouldice on Jan 24th to finally rid myself of this inconvenience.
I had focused so much of my attention on my weight loss leading up to my surgery that I had no time to worry or concern myself with how I felt about the actual procedure. The moment I did my weigh in confirmation at Shouldice, 12 hrs. before my procedure, is when it finally hit me like a bag of bricks. Nervousness, fear, and upset struck my core like a lightning bolt from Zeus. I was in an unfamiliar place, around total strangers, and no family around. I don’t think I had ever felt so alone in my life.
Shouldice is eerily reminiscent of a 1960’s murder mansion you’d see in the movies. Outdated décor, cold, and not entirely well lit. The staff, although friendly in a sense, are more robotic than anything else. You just get a creeping feeling that something sinister is about to happen. As a patient, you have to stay 4 evenings, 1 prior to your surgery, 3 nights after. It’s not the ideal type of mid-week retreat I envisioned for myself this year, but typically anything with catered meals and a freshly made bed is something I can pretend to enjoy.
I had a semiprivate room that I shared with a young kid, his name escapes me, but his wails and moans all throughout the evening haunted what little sleep I was afforded that first night. I met him as he had just come out of surgery earlier in the day and he suggested that the surgery was a piece of cake, although I suspect he was still under the influence of the anesthetic when we spoke, because his screams later that evening told an entirely different story.
Now, before that kid was able to play Freddy Kruger in my dreams that night, all new arrivals for surgery had to attend an information session in a common room. This room was filled with people that looked like they were as thrilled to be there as I was. As I sat down for this orientation an older gent notices my London Knights sweater and asks..
“Knights fan? Are you from London?”
“I sure am!” I boast with an odd bit of swagger.
“Well, so am I! My name is Todd."
We chatted the entire evening, until midnight if I’m not mistaken (I’m not sure that I’ve even accomplished that with my wife yet), from topics that ranged from world history, what the hell was wrong with the Knights, to DCL. He was a sense of calm that cloaked me all while a storm of chaos was brewing inside me. It was comforting having someone to chat with, especially as he was from London, in this sea of strangers.