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My Life is Good and So Is Ian Kennedy's

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As a two-time cancer survivor who has other assorted medical problems, I spend a lot of time in doctor’s offices. I am not ungrateful for this, in that in an age when too few people have access to proper medical care, I enjoy the luxury to be under constant monitoring for a relapse and anything else that might come up as well. Parenthetically, when politicians bemoan people with "Cadillac medical plans," I take it as a personal attack—if my access is cut then I stand a good chance of dying younger than I might otherwise have had to, and in an ugly and painful way. Please, raise everyone else’s tide, don’t lower my boat.

Anyway, despite my feelings of good fortune, this access comes with inconveniences. Appointments tend to come in bunches, such that every once in awhile I have a week like this one, when I might spend four of the five weekdays in someone’s waiting room. What drives me nuts is not that the doctor keeps me waiting, because I recognize that in many cases a tardy doctor is a good doctor—he’s listening attentively to his patients, doing thorough exams. The guys who rush you through like you’re a fast food order, they might miss something. Even the waiting itself isn’t so bad, because I pack enough stuff to keep busy—a book coming out next spring will feature many chapters edited by me when I could have been reading Men’s Health (I gave) or Architectural Digest (I feel uncomfortable reading pornography in public).

The only thing about the whole routine that bothers me is that they don’t always give me the same chance to be late. Now, I have to confess I pay chicken with the schedules of doctors that are always behind. I tend to err by about 20 minutes in my favor with those physicians who typically keep me waiting for 30 or 45 minutes (and sometimes longer). If they happened to have been running on time that day, too bad—I figure they can be understanding given past history. That would be fair, but fairness doesn’t always enter into things—I have been turned away for being 15 minutes late by doctors who have kept me waiting an hour and a half. If the doctor is local, this is no real inconvenience to me, but it does leave a bad taste.

Today I was to visit a doctor, a very good one, who often runs at least an hour behind schedule. Normally, I might call ahead and find out how he’s running, but this particular White Coat is part of a hospital system which hides his office behind several layers of phone banks, and it is difficult to get through. Thus I gave myself the standard 20 minutes and headed out. When I arrived at 2:50 for a 2:30 appointment, I was given the standard "Tch-tch-ing" from the receptionist, who wondered if the doctor would still see me. "Who do you think you’re kidding?" I wanted to shout?

When I finally got into the inner waiting room (there are always levels of waiting rooms these days, like you’re working through a video game to reach the boss monster), the nurse informed me that the doctor was well behind and five people were ahead of me. "Read a book," she said, "…Or write one." How little you know, I thought. How little you know. That’s why I was late in the first place.

Speaking of unfairness, I want to get in a note about Ian Kennedy winning his 20th game on Monday. Whatever his problems in giving the media the answers they needed to hear, he was an extremely promising prospect who got something of a bum’s rush from the Yankees. Yes, his stuff isn’t going to knock your socks off, but he always showed excellent command everywhere except in his 10-game audition in 2008. That should have been chalked up to inexperience rather than inability, just as Ivan Nova’s failure to get through five innings last fall was excused this spring.

Perhaps the Yankees would have come around on Kennedy had an aneurysm in his pitching arm not knocked him out for a good deal of 2009. We will never know, as he was traded as part of the Curtis Granderson deal nearly as soon as he was healthy. Granderson is obviously a nice return to get on any prospect, but the deal also cost the Yankees Phil Coke, a valuable reliever, and Austin Jackson, an excellent glove. How different would the price have been had Kennedy been given more of a chance to establish himself? Again, the aneurysm means that the choice wasn’t entirely up to the Yankees, but it is a near-certainty that given time, he would have established himself in the difficult environment of the AL East and Yankee Stadium, just as he has in the difficult pitching environment in Arizona.