11/27/2013 4:00 P.M. ET
Despite serious condition, fortunate, grateful, thankful
Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson undergoing dialysis while awaiting kidney transplant
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
As we head into Thanksgiving, I feel fortunate that I made it this far. I spent the entire year without going into the hospital. I credit dialysis for that. I feel like Popeye having his spinach. Yes, I feel that good. By no means am I out of the woods, because I need a kidney transplant.
I don't feel sorry for myself nor do I lose sleep knowing that I need to go under the knife to get better. There are several reasons I have a positive outlook.
When I found out I needed to go on dialysis, the first person I talked to was former Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein, now a Major League player information coach for the Angels. Kidney disease runs in the Eckstein family. Father Whitey and sisters Christine and Susan have all had kidney transplants. Three years ago, Rick donated his kidney to his brother, Ken. So who better to go to than Rick, who often gave me advice on how to take better care of myself?
Then there are the Nationals. They don't give you a day off and there is no time to think about my future. I'm always thinking what Mike Rizzo's next move will be? Will Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann receive their contract extensions? Will Ryan Zimmerman's right shoulder hold up for the 2014 season.
Whenever I'm on the dialysis machine -- three times a week -- I purposely irritate my best friend, sports radio broadcaster Craig Heist, and talk politics.
"What?" says Craig every time he picks up the phone. "Are you on dialysis? Leave me alone, Bill. Stop it. Stop it now!!"
But we end up talking for at least an hour about politics. If anyone heard our conversations, they would wonder whether we were friends. He is a die-hard Republican and I'm -- as he calls me -- a [bleeping] Liberal. For example, we roomed together last Spring Training and, at 2 in the morning, we argued whether President Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. It got so loud that the manager of the Holiday Inn called the room and threatened to call the cops if we didn't keep it quiet.
Despite our disagreements when it comes to politics, sports or music, Craig has kept me thinking about things other than my kidney problems.
I feel like my mother, Mary, is watching over me. She died of kidney failure in 2001. She was the rock of the family. I decided to follow her lead after she found out she had kidney disease. Keep on living. She traveled quite a bit while on dialysis. I'm doing the same thing now.
What more can I say about my superiors at MLB.com -- Dinn Mann, Carlton Thompson and Matthew Leach: They have given me the strength to keep going. I can't wait to get Matthew's call or email about an assignment. Dinn or Carlton is always around when something is bothering me. Carlton is almost like the big brother I never had.
This is the most fun I've had since 2010. No hospital visits. I'm not scolded by my brother, Kevin, and wife, Karen, about how I'm living my life. Lately, it's all about baseball.
Now, I'm thinking about the Winter Meetings in December and the moves the Nationals could possibly make. Will they acquire David Price or Max Scherzer? Do they have interest in Robinson Cano? Will they be able to acquire that fourth outfielder or a backup catcher?
I'm grateful that I'm able to have these questions about the Nationals. I'm grateful to be alive. I'm grateful to have friends and family looking out for me.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.