Martinsburg native recovering in St. Louis after receiving a life-threatening injury in Laos
Molly Deimeke, the victim of a severe head injury while traveling in Laos May 30, is currently recuperating at Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital in St. Louis, under the care of Dr. Ann Flannery. Though her doctors have said Molly's recuperation is presently uncertain, she is now able to walk, talk, and write her name.
Molly's injuries include a skull fracture at the base of the skull at the middle cranial fossa, a right temporal lobe fracture, epidural and subdural hematoma on her left temporal lobe, bruising to the left lobe and five broken ribs.
Molly attended St. Joseph Catholic School, Community R-6 and the Aveda Hair Institute in Cincinnati. She worked for Paul Mitchell in Las Vegas from 2005-2013. In August, 2013 she decided it was time for a vacation.
Molly had been traveling for almost a year and occasionally working as a Paul Mitchell educator. Her journey began in September, 2013, touring Europe. At the beginning of 2014 she began traveling throughout Asia. She visited Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and inevitably Laos. Molly had intended to return to work for Paul Mitchell in Thailand for a month, before returning home at the end of June.
The accident occurred while Molly was riding in a tuk-tuk, a small three wheel taxi also known as an auto rickshaw, which sometimes include additional seating on the roof.
Molly's traveler's insurance had recently expired and she didn't renew it, because her journey was so near an end.
According to her mother, Susan Deimeke, the taxi began to reach capacity and Molly volunteered to climb to the roof seating. During her climb, Molly fell from the moving cab and landed on her head and rolled across the street.
People who were riding with her lifted Molly back into the tuk-tuk.
"When she fell and was injured there was no ambulance in Laos, so these kids picked her up, put her in the tuk-tuk and took her to the hospital," Susan said. "Laos' healthcare is substandard. There was very little. A woman Molly had met, who was with her during the accident and had just graduated medical school the week before, Diana, started Molly's IV injection. The medical staff there couldn't get her IV started. Diana said Molly was bleeding from both ears and vomiting blood."
After stabilizing Molly as best possible, Diana called her father, who works in New York City emergency services. He said Molly would likely only have four hours to live if not provided with adequate medical care. Diana then continued searching the hospital for things that could help, but the hospital had so little supplies there was not much she could do.
As Diana scrambled through the hospital, the tuk-tuk driver was searching for Molly's hotel. At the time of the accident Molly was only carrying her hotel key, and no additional identification of any kind. All her possessions were later recovered.
The only way Molly's new friends and current caregivers could find her relatives was through Facebook. Molly had exchanged names with Diana and she used that information to locate Deimeke's page.
"They are twelve hours apart from us, so Wednesday during the day, I get this weird message from someone named Shawn, who is Diana's boyfriend, on my Skype. It said, 'I was with Molly when she got hurt.' I've heard all this stuff about scams and frauds, so I called Leah, Molly's sister. I asked her if she had heard anything from Molly and she said no, but she is lit up on Skype and Facebook. So, I ignored it, but just a few hours after that I got a call from the embassy in Laos that said, 'Your daughter's hurt and we need to airlift her from Laos to Bangkok. We need money to do this.'"
Susan immediately called Molly's father and began preparing to travel to Bangkok. Leah contacted the Paul Mitchell company through Facebook and their people immediately began working to help. Paul Mitchell representatives picked out Molly's surgeon and arranged for her transportation home.
"Every airport I was in I got lost, but everybody was nice enough to help me do what I needed to do. The Paul Mitchell people were nice enough to pick me up at 3 a.m. to see Molly," Susan said.
The Paul Mitchell representative said to her, "You take care of Molly. We'll take care of everything else."
The hospital in Bangkok was very clean, but no one was doing neurological assessments on Molly like Susan expected, which concerned her. "I felt like in a neurological case you need to have real low stimulation, with lights off and no noise. Things like that are important with head injuries. That wasn't done either," Susan said. "They didn't have an intracranial pressure monitor on her, which surprised me. We are just lucky God was with her and protecting her, because it wasn't done like it would have been in the United States. All I thought was, I want to get her home."
After Molly was released from intensive care it became Susan's responsibility to care for her, which is standard in Thailand. When she couldn't be there, Susan had to hire a private nurse, because Molly required constant supervision.
"She was on and going one hundred percent of the time. She was fretting, moving or trying to pull out things. When I first got there, her eyes were open and she was talking, but she looked at me and I could tell there was no recognition in those eyes."
Molly's arms were restrained to prohibit her from removing the IV, but her feet were constantly moving.
"She was fighting the restraints and talking what to her was important stuff," Susan said, "but she has what is known as expressive aphasia, because she hurt the temporal lobe on the left side, so it's hard for her to form her thoughts and get them out."
Molly first said she recognized her mother a week after the accident, after being escorted across the nurse's station. Susan was eventually allowed to walk with her daughter around the hospital. Molly began wanting to walk incessantly, which is a common trait in those suffering from head injuries. It was during these walks that Molly began to reacquire her ability to communicate.
Susan said, "The first day we were walking I said, 'Wow, you are going to walk me enough that I'm going to lose some weight,' and she looked at me and said, 'You could do that, Mom.' That made sense, so it was good news to me." Molly was eventually able to tell Susan that she was overwhelmed and scared.
Molly's progress caused her mother to weep with joy, but she felt as though she was the only person in Thailand who cried. "None of them cry, but I was," she said. "Nobody knew what to do with me when I cried, and I cried a lot. They would just walk by."
The doctors didn't seem to want to offer any negative information involving Molly's injury. "They only wanted to tell me the good stuff. I had been warned about this, because Molly and Leah had gone to Thailand before." Molly had told her the Thai aren't negative people, they are very positive and only want to see the good in everything.
Susan said, "I asked the doctor what the prognosis was and he said, 'She should be able to function again and be back to normal.' Susan was not relieved by this prognosis, because the doctor told her he had to remove a centimeter of Molly's subdural hematoma and part of her temporal lobe, due to the severity of her contusions.
It wasn't until returning to America after a 45-hour plane ride that Susan was told the true severity of the situation. The doctors at St. Louis University said Molly suffered a severe head injury and no one knew what was going to happen, but they would do as much as they could.
"I don't know what we'll end up with, and I'm sure nobody knows, but it's important to hear what is really the truth. I think Molly will be able to function again, but I don't think she'll be the same old Molly. This is going to make her a bit of a different person. I see my old Molly in there, but I see things that are going to be different with her. A lot of people who have had traumatic brain injuries can come back and be functional, but they're not exactly who they were," Susan said.
Susan is thankful Leah works for the pediatric intensive care unit at Cardinal Glennon and was able to ask Flannery to accept her as a patient.
Since being admitted to Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital Molly has shown improvement every day. "She can walk, talk, shower and dress herself," Susan said. "That's really good as severe as her head injury was. She can start carrying on little conversations. Her dad was with her and they talked a little bit about farming."
Molly has also written her father, Larry Deimeke's, first name.
"We've seen so many times throughout this whole process that God was watching her and she has so many angels taking care of her. It's unimaginable. From the kids who found her and took her to the hospital, to the Paul Mitchell people, to her doctors that did the surgery, to Travel Care International who brought her home. I'm very luck too, because the people at Audrain County Health Department didn't bat an eye when I said I needed to go. They said, just go, we'll figure it out. This has been a God send for us," Susan said.
She also said she has learned that America is the best place to be hurt in the world and feels sorry for the people of Laos who have such poor healthcare.
Susan is also thankful for those who operate, have given to and offered well wishes at the Facebook page Support for Molly Deimeke.
"The people at Support for Molly Deimeke are so wonderful about praying for us," Susan said. "The people out there who don't even know her or us that are supporting us are just mind boggling. The power of prayer has brought us to where we are today."
Support for Molly Deimeke is still accepting donations. The site was started by Molly's previous roommate in Las Vegas. The funds collected through the site were used to transport Molly and her mother to St. Louis.