Benefit planned for man hit with disease
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 30, 2012 1:46 PM
Brian Lanning, back row right, with his family, wife Julie, holding baby Brody, and their other children, Briley and Hunter.
LAGRANGE -- A benefit is planned next week to support the family of a man diagnosed last month with a mysterious flesh-eating disease.
Brian Lanning, who turned 38 earlier this week, has been unable to work since Oct. 16, the day before his life abruptly changed.
"It was on the morning of Oct. 17," his wife, Julie, said. "He woke up in the early morning hours with severe pain in his right arm and elbow. We took him to the hospital, to the E.R. in Kinston.
"By the time we arrived, he was in toxic shock so it came on very quickly. He doesn't remember anything for the next nine days. His fever was so high, I can't remember, like 104, 106."
They spent the bulk of that first day in the emergency room at Lenoir Memorial Hospital, Mrs. Lanning said.
"They ran various tests, trying to figure out what was going on," she said. "Everything was just so out of whack, they just admitted him to the CCU (critical care unit). And then the next day they did the first surgery on his arm.
"They took tissue samples to find out what was going on and it came back with the flesh-eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis."
Things were further complicated when Lanning went into respiratory failure in the operating room, his wife said. He was placed on a ventilator for nearly a week and was later discharged on Oct. 29.
"They treated him, I mean he had so many antibiotics and he was in a drug-induced coma for the whole six or seven days," Mrs. Lanning said. "He gained 50 pounds from all the fluids and medication they put in him."
He ultimately underwent two surgeries -- the second on Oct. 22 -- and during the latter, doctors used "antibiotic beads," an alternative treatment option of intravenous antibiotic delivery.
"They implanted (them) in his arm and that's supposed to help with the healing process," Mrs. Lanning said.
In many respects, the past few weeks have been a blur for the parents of three -- Hunter, 9, Briley, 8, and Brody, 4 months.
"It's very difficult. I went for almost two weeks and didn't see my children," Mrs. Lanning said. "And I knew I was going to be losing my job before this happened so that's just another burden."
Like her husband, she has not been able to return to work while juggling all the responsibilities thrust upon her. She has been employed at Lenoir Women's Care, she said, but the office is closing in December.
Brian had worked for the past 10 years as an outboard technician, or boat mechanic, at Precision Marine on U.S. 70.
"He worked up until the day before it happened," his wife said.
Ironically, it might have been what contributed to his current health crisis.
"With his occupation, they're thinking it came from him hitting his arm on a boat motor or coming into contact with a boat that had been in contaminated water," she said. "Right now he has no use of his right arm. There's a good prognosis, but we just don't know how long it's going to be."
Most days are spent managing doctor visits. Mrs. Lanning said they typically go two or three times a week, where Brian's arm is checked, wrapped and cleaned up. He is also having to see specialists, like a gastroenterologist, as he developed some inflammation in his stomach.
"He just got to where he's got a little bit of strength back, but it took awhile, maybe the first week. He's just got to where he's starting to eat again," she said.
There is a bright side, though, Mrs. Lanning said.
"It's not contagious. That was the first thing I asked, since we had a baby," she said. "It's just a very rare thing."
And the family does have health insurance, she said, although the medical bills, coinciding with the couple's inability to work, still piled up.
"You know, the deductible is so high it's like financing a car to pay for everything," she said. "But the community and everybody have been so supportive. I have a lot of help."
Brian said he is bolstered by the doctors' reports.
"They're hoping for a complete recovery eventually, for the arm to come back to full use," he said Thursday. "He doesn't want to do any physical therapy until it's completely healed."
The pain has dissipated, he added, with the main challenge being inactivity, which contributes to his being more weak and tired.
Lanning's family lives in Kinston, while his wife is from LaGrange. The community, as well as Bethel Christian Academy, where the children are in school, their church, New Hope Baptist Church in Kinston, and Westminster Methodist Church in Kinston, where Brian grew up, have been especially supportive, she said.
"I appreciate everything everybody's doing," he said. "They don't know how much we appreciate it. You never know how many friends you have until something like this happens. It's been a real blessing for us what everybody has done for us."
"Family and friends, even people we don't know, their response has been just overwhelming," his wife said. "There's been churches that were praying for him all over, from Texas to Kentucky to Florida."
And next week there will be an opportunity for others to lend support.
A barbecue plate benefit will be held Dec. 7 at the Wheat Swamp Christian Church Fellowship Building, across from North Lenoir High School, from 11 a.m. until. Plates will be sold for $7 each, eat in or take-out, and donations will be accepted.
There will also be pick-up locations at three other sites -- Precision Marine on U.S. 70 East, Goldsboro; Piggly Wiggly on N.C. 258 North in Kinston; and Neuse Sport Shop, U.S. 70 East, Kinston.
For more information, contact Neil Colie at 252-286-8222.