By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG — After suffering a traumatic brain injury, it’s uncertain whether 22-year-old Taylor Bingaman will ever be the same.
What is certain, though, is that his family, friends and neighbors will always be there to support a fellow community member.
Early Thanksgiving morning, Taylor fell headfirst down the staircase at his family’s home. He went down 13 steps and landed on concrete overlaid by tile, crushing the right side of his skull.
Taylor was flown by helicopter from his family’s house to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, where he was placed in the adult intensive care unit. Over the next three days, he was fighting for his life. Doctors had to remove a large part of the right side of his skull so that his swelling brain would have room to expand and prevent him from dying. His family — mother Nicole, father Keith and brothers Avery, 19, and Tanner, 16 — were told that Taylor, now comatose, had experienced a “devastating traumatic brain injury.”
Taylor was in critical condition for 23 days and on Dec. 17 was transferred to Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital. While there, he finally began to emerge from his coma.
“Unlike Lifetime or Hallmark, when someone comes out of a coma it’s called a slow emerging,” his mother said. Taylor would only be able to open his eyes for 10 seconds or move his hands slightly. “It is a very long and tedious process, at least for Taylor it was,” she said.
She said, “Taylor has made tremendous strides” since he first started showing real signs of emergence in late January and early February. Taylor previously required a feeding tube, but now he is able to eat finely chopped foods.
He also recognizes his family and bits of his memory are slowly starting to come back to him. He does not remember his fall and does not seem to realize he has been injured.
Taylor is now able to talk, although he often repeats statements and has trouble filtering what he says.
“We don’t know how much of Taylor we are going to get back,” his mother said. “The person that I interact with on a daily basis knows that I’m his mother, but it’s not the son that I had prior to this accident, it’s a different person.”
To care for her son, Nicole Bingaman has had to take an unpaid leave of absence from her job with the Department of Public Welfare since November. She also knows Taylor will not be able to remain home alone once he is released from Bryn Mawr. “To bring Taylor home, we have to make so many adjustments to our house. We don’t know what all of them are yet,” she said. The financial stress “is pretty tremendous.”
In this hour of need, members of the Mifflinburg community have stepped up to give the Bingamans a helping hand.
“The community of Mifflinburg has been phenomenal,” she said. A group called “Team Taylor,” formed by family friend Shelby Hackenburg, organized over Facebook. It sold T-shirts and reached out to businesses to sponsor community fundraisers for the Bingaman family.
One of the most recent outreaches came from another family in need, the Hobbins family. Mike Hobbins was blinded in a hunting accident in May 2010, and since then, he and his family also have received help from community members.
“We kind of know what they’re going through,” Mike Hobbins said. “The first thing after my accident I was worried about was not being able to stay in our house. ... With all the help from our community and friends, I’ve been able to stay here.”
The Hobbins family donated half of the funds raised at a March 17 bingo fundraiser to the Bingamans — a total of $9,400.
“People have been so good to us, the community and everyone, and we wanted to give back a little bit,” Terry Hobbins, Mike’s wife, said.
“I hope he (Taylor) knows how many people are praying and sending good thoughts his way, because they are,” Mike Hobbins said.