All aboard for 'Super' Ian: 2-year-old chugs full speed ahead after suffering burns

JOYCE F. NOWELL, Echo Pilot
Ian Jordan, known to family and friends as “Super” Ian, recently enjoyed Revere Beach near Boston while an outpatient at Shriners Hospital and following two months of hospitalization for burns to 27 percent of his body. Ian, 2, was injured May 3 while visiting family near Greencastle.

Like most 2-year-old boys, Ian Jordan just wants to go outside to play. Ian’s constant yearning is all the more understandable when you consider the toddler just spent two months hospitalized with burns to 27 percent of his body and in the process beat all predictions on when he would be back to being a busy toddler again.

Now home in Wilmington, N.C., “Super” Ian (as he became known during his hospitalization) continues to recover from the accidental burns he suffered while celebrating his birthday with family in the Greencastle area on May 3. His parents, John and Megan (Nowell) Jordan, have been by Ian’s side through nine surgeries as he was treated in Baltimore and Boston. They continue to marvel at their son’s progress and the blessings they see in an ordeal no one should ever have to endure.

“Ian is very insistent,” remarked Megan. “The surgeon at Johns Hopkins said he's going to do his own physical therapy because he's an active little boy.”

John, who admits to sharing his affinity for trains with this son, said, “I hate to say it, but one of the most miraculous things is his stubbornness. It caused him to do things that often times the therapist didn't think he'd be doing yet.

“He is really into trains and they had a train table in the playroom. He was going to walk to that train table and he did.”

Changing tracks

The Jordans are able to take trips to the Mid-Atlantic area to visit family for an occasional long weekend from their jobs with Chick-fil-A. John is the training director at the Mayfaire restaurant in Wilmington and a trainer in Atlanta, Ga. at the Chick-fil-A corporate headquarters. Megan is the financial director at the Mayfaire location.

Megan grew up in Greencastle and is a 2003 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School. John graduated from Francis Scott Key High School in Union Bridge, Md., where he has family. Megan and John met while working at the Mayfaire Chick-fil-A and were married in 2008. Ian was born in 2013.

On the weekend of May 3 they were excited to be celebrating their son’s birthday with family when the accident sent Ian by helicopter to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Burn Center in Baltimore. What followed were six skin graft surgeries, a feeding tube and all the usual symptoms that burn victims suffer. Ian’s treatment did include the removal of the fingertips on his right hand.

John remarked, “Great burn centers are few and far between. We were definitely in the right area to get quickly airlifted to Johns Hopkins to get the care that he needed right away.”

Within a month of the accident, Ian was ready to head to Boston’s Shriners Hospital for rehabilitation care. Several more surgeries were performed in Boston, therapy progressed and he was released to outpatient care on June 18.

All aboard with medical care....

The Jordans can’t say enough about the care Ian received in both Baltimore and Boston, giving high praise to the doctors, nurses and therapists.

At Hopkins a nurse named Emma signed on for Ian’s primary care.

"She said she had been thinking about him on her day off. So it wasn't just about his care. It was about him,” related John.

The Jordans credit prayer and the medical care for Ian’s quicker than expected progress.

John said, “The doctors and nurses and staffs at Johns Hopkins and Shriners Hospital were amazing. We all know what a great facility Johns Hopkins is and they had nothing but praise for the Shriners, so we couldn't have had better hospitals.

“Ian had absolutely amazing people taking care of him both through prayer and the medical staff the entire time.”

...and prayer

As people of faith, the Jordans knew that God was with them and they felt his support through people from coast to coast.

“We knew that there were people praying and thinking about Ian from all over,” explained John. “They were calling us. It was overwhelming in a good way. To know that there were that many people thinking about Ian and knowing that he was part of their daily routine of prayer was overwhelming. We knew that there were people on his side.”

Megan added, “It was amazing. I don't think we would have made it through without all of that support.”

John said that while they were away from where they lived, they weren't away from home.

“The fact that we were near the places where we grew up allowed us a lot of physical support with daily visitors,” he said.

“We realized that our family was bigger than what we ever thought it would be.”

The Jordans are also thankful to Chick-fil-A, which allowed them to be off work without question.

"I don't know if everyone could say that they have a job that they think about you on a personal level like your family and say whenever you can come back, do," said John.

Navigating the curve

While Johns Hopkins was the right place for Ian’s initial treatment, the move to Boston proved to be a turning point.

“When we got to Shriners it was a change of scenery and a different approach to the treatment,” said Megan. “It was a little more hands off medically.”

By this time doctors felt Ian was “care-stressed” and gave him a break before starting re-introduction therapy. John explained, “Their approach at his stage was using things that are more normal. His therapy included getting to play with trains, getting to play with balls, doing things that he would normally do when he leaves the hospital and not just stretching his hands, but getting him to do those things that a 2-year-old should do. A change of scenery definitely was a help.”

Megan added, “When he was released from the hospital and was being treated as an outpatient in Boston was a big step forward.

Staying on track

Another help was Ian’s love of trains. John said, “I look funny playing with trains by myself. I needed to get him hooked on them so that I could start playing with them again. Now we like trains together.” His physical therapist had written in his journal that be had a great knowledge of train terminology. A train table was part of the playroom at the Boston facility.

“I think what got him up walking as fast as he did was that they had a wonderful playroom that he was able to be in and there was a train table there. At Hopkins he wasn't allowed there because he had open wounds.

“The first time he stood up and walked on his own was at the train table and the first time that he asked us to walk was to the train table. So it's good he got hooked on trains. Seeing something that he really wanted to do is what pushed him to do it. He was determined and confident to get up and do it.”

“Being so young he didn't realize what had happened,” said Megan. “He just knew something hurt. And he just knew he wanted to play.”

Fellow passengers

The Jordans also found support with those going through the same situation. At Johns Hopkins they were able to stay at a special house for families of burn patients.

“We met so many nice families at that house,” John said. “Just being able to talk with them was such a help. We had dinner in the community room with them and we included them in our daily prayers. That was definitely a comfort.”

Said Megan, “We helped each other.”

It was while the Jordans spoke with other families that they learned some information about burns and how quickly they can happen. It takes just five seconds for something at 140 degrees to be a third degree burn. That is all the more alarming when the sensitivity of a toddler’s skin is considered.

The Jordans also connected with the family of a patient familiar to the Franklin County community. A house fire injured Reese Burdette of Mercersburg in May of 2014. She is still being treated at Johns Hopkins.

“We met Reese's family while we were there. That was big,” related John. “Reese's mom, Claire, was a huge help in the beginning. She would come sit and have conversations with us and talk about what she's been through; letting us know the expectations of what would be happening in the future. That was really rewarding to see and talk to her on multiple occasions and have those conversations.

“It was so nice to talk to Claire and have someone that you had a personal connection with.”

Caboose

While Ian has returned home, he will be working on that final destination for a while still. He has occupational therapy on his right hand three times a week.

“We didn't know yet if he was left-handed or right-handed,” said John. “We joked that he held his fork in his right hand so that he could pick things up from his plate with his left hand. Now he just uses his fork in his left hand. As soon as he got the bandages off his left hand, which came before the right hand, he was using it to grip things and hold onto things and he's done that more and more.

“On playgrounds he doesn't shy away from anything because of the right hand issue, he just does it. He adapts instantly.”

His Mom agreed, “He finds a way to do it.”

Ian will also wear custom-fitted compression garments on his arms and legs for two years, except for bath time, to help smooth the scars and keep them from getting thick and hard.

Pulling into station

While the Jordans have used the terms nightmare and overwhelming to describe the past three months, they also feel they have seen miracles and felt blessed.

“Ian went through so many different stages,” John said. “The first three weeks it was overwhelming. It went into a period of miraculous.

“At first we heard a timeline of you may be here for a couple of months and it ended up being in four weeks we were able to go to a rehab center. That wasn't expected to happen so soon. It was overwhelming to miraculous to rejoiceful once we had that date for going home.”

Megan related, “At some point it seemed like we woke up from the nightmare and I think now at home we are waking up again. We're back to what should be normal, but it’s not.

“Still, it's not hard to see the blessing.”

“Going home was hard to imagine,” remembered John. “We didn't know when he was going to get up and walk again. We were told that we might even go home and he wouldn’t be walking yet. Then it was hard, but not now. He was resilient.

“Seeing the point where he is now and thinking back to where they said he may have still been in acute care for his burns. And we're out of the hospital. We’re home. He's up and walking. He can't stop talking.”

“Super” Ian is probably asking to go outside.