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Despite failed kidneys, Martha & Mary resident plans on traveling again

POULSBO — Edward Jerden’s hopes were almost lost when he came close to death in late 2015 due to failed kidneys. Living in Thailand after retiring from work as a customer support manager for Atex, Jerden returned to the states with the help of his brother.

“He was trying to get me back, but the airline said, ‘No, you can’t travel, you’re sick,’ ” Jerden said. “So, we had to work an extra week with their doctor in Taiwan and my doctor in Thailand to get permission from their doctor to ship me home.”

When Jerden returned to the U.S., he said his doctor didn’t think he was going to survive.

“Everybody here said I’d only last a couple of weeks — maybe a month and then I’d be dead,” he said with a long pause. “I fooled them.”

Jerden currently resides at the Martha & Mary Rehabilitation Center in Poulsbo, but he hasn’t been in North Kitsap all that long. In fact, he enjoyed his time traveling the globe so much that he hopes to eventually see the world again.

He began working for Michigan newspapers in the mid-1980s, where he built up years of experience. Then, Jerden was hired away by Philadelphia newspapers. He was employed in Pennsylvania for a couple years until “Atex headhunted” him.

“I was an advertising systems expert, so Atex hired me to go to work at The New York Times for their new, big advertising system installation,” he said.

But Jerden still wasn’t satisfied. He put in two years notice to his company, asking to work for the Atex International program. Although he went on a short stint to Denmark for the company, two years came around and Atex still didn’t have an international program, he said. However, the company did have a job for him overseas.

Jerden said Atex told him that The Dominion Post newspaper in New Zealand wrote a letter of intent to buy a system called Total Publication Environment, and it needed somebody who was trained on TPE.

“I volunteered,” he said while raising his hand. “They hired me to come down, train and do the installation.”

Not long after, he took a vacation to his favorite place of all — Thailand. It was here where Jerden said he ran into a regional manager for a newspaper that wanted him to take a look at its system and write a report on it. The selling point was when Jerden was told his flight and accommodations would be paid for.

“He already got a report,” he said, “but they were contesting that, so he wanted another … it was a mess. They still had the computers at [$250,000] a piece, stacked on multiple shipping crates.”

There was a hole in the wall where the company stuck a pipe to reach the air conditioner, Jerden explained, but it didn’t cool the building down.

It was back to New Zealand after the short project finished. Immediately, he was asked to work on another assignment in Malaysia. Jerden said he was told his contract would be extended one more year. Without hesitation, he jumped on a flight to Malaysia.

“I got into an argument with the boss in Singapore,” he said. “The project was still going but he wouldn’t guarantee me an extension. He wouldn’t tell me if he was going to keep me or not so I started looking around again.”

From there, Jerden traveled to Denmark and England for advertising system installations. He was then asked to go to South Africa to do a test install, but as he did before, Jerden asked for something in return.

He planned on visiting Thailand for the holidays, so he asked for a paid vacation in South Africa instead. And a paid vacation he got.

“That’s the first time I was escorted every place with a guy that carried a gun,” he said.

After business slowed down, Jerden said he was about ready to be flown back to the U.S. when he asked for a flight to Thailand instead — which is where he resided until he got sick.

From city to city, Jerden never expected to be in Poulsbo. And he said he’s not going to let failed kidneys and continuous dialysis keep him from eventually traveling again.

“I love Thailand,” he said. “I’m trying to make arrangements to go back.”

Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Contact him at jmoore@soundpublishing.com.

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