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July 31, 2013
Feldman takes life one step at a time
By Marla Hanover
Lots of people lace up their shoes, put in their ear buds and head out the door without a thought in their mind except how many miles to run. But for someone like Jered Feldman, taking a breath and walking out the front door is an accomplishment he cherishes every day.
Jered has arterio-venous malformation or AVM, which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins, bypassing the capillary system. Three million people are born with vascular malformations and only 10% have AVM.
In 1998 when he was just 20, Jered was in a coma for three weeks due to his AVM. Jered, weighing less than 70 lbs., experienced bleeding on the left side of his brain that caused damage to the right side of his body. Jered was a major athlete in high school and college where he participated in football, basketball and track and field. The discipline he learned from those sports has helped him with his recovery.
It took him two years to regain the use of his right side. Being the disciplined athlete that he is, Jered decided to give running another try.
Double pneumonia and other damages to his lungs made it very hard and all he could do was walk. While trying to regain his health, Jered underwent stereotactic radiation to rid the pear-sized blood clot in his brain, which had a 33% daily chance of rupturing. Cramps and Charlie horses were a normal occurrence.
The radiation completely depleted his nervous system causing the white brain tissue to swell back up hitting the roof of his skull. The swelling caused even more impairment to his right side.
“My walk turned into an embarrassing wobble or stumble because the right leg lost all usage,” he said. “I still have a limp over ten years later, but I’ve managed to give it a little ‘strut’ so it looks like it's supposed to look that way.”
Jered started walking on the treadmill to build his strength, but as a former runner, he tried to go at a faster pace than his body could handle. This caused him to slip off the side or his foot would ‘snap’ and he would sprain an ankle. At the same time, Jered’s then girlfriend started running for her health. While she trained for races, Jered would walk around the various parks throwing in a little bit of running, which his lungs couldn’t handle.
When he attended a 5K race in 2011, Jered was impressed and inspired to train for one. On Thanksgiving Day 2011, Jered attempted his first 5K where he mostly walked with a little bit of jogging. The cold was hard on his lungs but that didn’t stop him from finishing.
Summer of 2012, Jered started jogging more with his girlfriend who has supported him through all his recovery. After several months of training, on January 19, 2013 Jered lined up at the start for the Battle of the Bean 5K. He also completed the Memorial Day Brain Injury 5K and will run the Olathe Medical Center 5K in August.
“Man, I understand that when all my doctors said I would never be able to run again or play sports again, they were just stating what they saw,” he said.
Jered is now 35 and has spent the last 15 years believing he couldn’t make it. That belief is gone and he is still running. Soft surfaces such as grass or sand are more ideal for him and he can almost run a full mile without stopping. His legs are getting stronger and he no longer has issues with snapping ankles. Jered has also built up his lung capacity and says he is happier after running.
What’s next for Jered? He’s working on his equilibrium so he can start riding a bike.
“It’s the athlete in me,” he said. “It’s the athlete in all of us.”