Pray for Tay: Saddle bronc rider Taylen Nelson at Craig Hospital with brain injury
The year 2020 hasn’t been great for most people. With COVID-19 looming and drought conditions covering most of the region, it’s a year most would like to bypass. This sentiment couldn’t hold more true for Taylen Nelson.
The 22-year-old was in an incident Aug. 9 that left him with a fractured skull, two brain bleeds, broken bones in his ear, and a collapsing jugular vein. He was moving his younger brother Gavin, the closest in age to Taylen of their five siblings, to college in Texas.
After spending some time in the ICU and trauma center in Fort Worth, Taylen moved to Craig Hospital in Denver earlier this week. Taylen had several grand mal and a few smaller seizures while still in Texas, which have since been controlled by medicine, which he will likely have to be on for the next two years, his mother Kim Obrigewitch said. A grand mal seizure causes a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. It’s the type of seizure most people picture when they think about seizures, according to Mayo Clinic.
He has already started addressing setbacks due to the injuries, and the family will know more after Taylen’s Craig Hospital rehab team meets on Monday. For now, speech is his greatest obstacle.
“It’s like he has a foreign language that nobody understands,” Obrigewitch said. “Every day, he has more words that are normal. He’s almost saying a sentence, but the main part of the sentence you can’t understand. So, he’ll go, ‘I want you to…’ or ‘Would you please…’ and then you can’t understand it, and its very frustrating.” Obrigetwitch said that initially, Nelson could hardly speak any legible words, so he is improving.
His girlfriend of about two years, Amanda Beard, is with Taylen and Obrigewitch offering support wherever she’s able. The two were friends for many years before they began dating.
“We all love her,” Obrigewitch said of Beard. “Those two can kind of communicate with their eyes. They’ve spent a lot of time together. He’d prefer to have her with him than me.”
Obrigewitch and Beard trade off days spent with Taylen. Taylen’s dad, Brent Nelson, and his siblings, have also visited.
“With the whole virus, we can only have one person in a day to see him, so Kim and I have been switching every other day,” Beard said. “Just that day that one of us misses, he improves so much. It’s hard because he doesn’t have anything on the outside, like a broken arm or a broken leg, so you can’t physically see it, it’s all inside, and that’s a little frustrating, and it’s frustrating for him too.”
Taylen is an independent, old soul, his mom said, and a burgeoning saddle bronc rider. Last year, he won the Red Lodge Rodeo in Montana on 2019 bucking horse of the year Lunatic from Hell, and he’s been touring the rodeo circuit this year as well, earning his pro card.
When he isn’t bronc riding, he can generally be found on his family’s ranch, Nelson Simmental Livestock Company, in Wibaux, Montana. He has his own place near his dad’s and grandparents’ where he can hang his hat.
As generally happens when a member of the livestock and rodeo industries is down, support for Taylen has shown up in droves. From a family’s alternate 4-H steer being sold for donation, raffle drawings from Bar Diamond Bar Boutique and Gallery and others, an ale in his name being sold at Beaver Creek Brewery in Wibaux, and much more, including many, many prayers, help is being sent to Taylen however it can be offered.
Taylen had planned to ride a bronc at Ride a Horse, Feed a Cowboy in Hulett, Wyoming, this past weekend. Instead, the organization auctioned a framed poster that raised $1,100 for Taylen’s expenses.
“I cannot express the words enough to say how thankful I am,” Obrigewitch said. “I’m overwhelmed. There’s nothing to explain it.”
If you’re in the area, the Taylen Nelson Benefit Bronc Riding and Ranch Bronc Riding is slated for September 25 in Wibaux. It will feature, in addition to the events listed in the name, team roping, breakaway, a silent auction, and calcutta.
Two options for donating funds are available. A GoFundMe has been established under Medical Expenses & Traveling for Tay and through the Taylen Nelson Medical Relief Fund at Stockman Bank in Wibaux.
Across social media, friends of Taylen’s are showing support under the hashtag #ridefortaylen along with their bronc rides since his incident. Almost daily updates are shared on Obrigewitch’s, Beard’s, and Taylen’s Facebook pages.
“It’s tough of course, but I think we’re all doing pretty good,” Beard said. “We see a lot of improvement every day. it’s unbelievable how much be can improve from the beginning of the day to the end.”
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News