Local News

Burn Victims Often Face Long Recovery Both Physically, Emotionally

Posted January 31, 2003

— Many of the critically injured burn victims from Wednesday's Kinston plant fire remain at the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill and possibly face a long recovery. One man is still recovering 13 years after he was badly burned, but to him, the healing is as much about the body as the mind.

At 21 years old, James January was in the Army ROTC. He dreamed of a military career, but his plans changed in an instant when his truck started burning.

"The flames were moving in slow motion. The problem was I was moving slow, too," he said.

January escaped the burning truck but he had burns over 85 percent of his body. He said he did not know what happened to him for the first month. Since then, January said he has suffered physically and emotionally.

"I would yell and scream at anyone. I had a lot of anger and fight and didn't know how to focus it," he said.

January said the accident was 13 years ago and he stopped counting surgeries at 20. The most recent was last year.

"After a period of time, it heals up where you are no longer dealing with pain," he said.

January got to the point where he wanted to run instead of walk. He decided he wanted to be active for the rest of his life. Now he bikes, skydives and scuba dives.

It has been a long road and January is moving forward. Between operations he has been studying to get his pilot's license.

"I just say there's a glass half full or half empty. I now look at it and say the glass has something in it. Let's go somewhere else," he said.

January now spends a lot of his time volunteering with children recovering from burns. He has created a

foundation

to help other burn survivors.

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