For eight months, Molly Deimeke traveled through Europe and Asia after making a decision to leave the comforts of her home in Las Vegas, Nevada for one year.
The hair stylist visited countries like Germany and Hungary before eventually becoming an educator for Paul Mitchell when she began touring Asia in early 2014.
Five months later, her life would change forever during a visit to Laos.
Deimeke was riding on top of a full auto rickshaw, also known as a tuk-tuk, when she fell off and hit her head.
She suffered a skull fracture on her right side along with a traumatic brain injury from contra coup on her left side. She suffered both an epidural hematoma and a subdural hematoma.
Deimeke also had a couple of broken ribs on her right side.
Fortunately, she was with some friends she had just met three days earlier.
With no ambulance service available, a man named Shawn sought the help of a woman named Diana, who just happened to be a medical student.
Diana visited a hospital and sought the supplies she needed to start an IV with fluids.
Deimeke had no identification on her but fortunately Diana knew her name. She started searching on Facebook and found Molly’s mother Susan Deimeke, of Martinsburg. She also contacted the U.S. Embassy in Laos.
“And I got a phone call at midnight on the 29th (of May) saying my daughter had a severe head injury and they needed to air lift her to Thailand and they need money (to do it),” said Molly’s mother, who was on vacation in Nashville, Tennessee at the time.
With a 12 hour time differential, Susan contacted Molly’s dad Larry to help with the financial need.
Larry sought the help of a family member in the late hours to help in wiring funds with no banks open.
Meanwhile, her colleagues at Paul Mitchell in Thailand saw Diana’s pleas on Facebook and took over from there. Paul Mitchell staff members secured a neurosurgeon and helped to get Molly air lifted to a Bangkok hospital.
“It took them about 24-30 hours to get her to a Bangkok hospital,” said Susan Deimeke, who works at the Audrain County Health Department.
Molly’s mother said the Paul Mitchell employees stayed on the phone with her continually as her duaghter arrived at the hospital and had surgery.
A craniotomy was performed on Molly’s left side of her head. This procedure allowed doctors to drain the epidural hematoma while removing the sepdural homatoma. A surgeon had to remove part of her left lobe due to swelling and bruising.
“Her neurosurgeon in St. Louis said she had a severe brain injury,” Susan Deimeke said about Molly, whose travel insurance ran out nine days before her accident.
Molly’s mom, through the support of her work place and through the help of the Martinsburg Bank Travel System, arrived in Thailand on Sunday, June 1.
“I was told it is hard to get on the flight to Hong Kong from Chicago and they got me business class,” she added.
Susan Deimeke said she is unlike her daughter in that she never travels. Fortunately, she did have a passport from attending a wedding in Jamaica in 2008, which helped her quickly get to Molly’s bedside. Paul Mitchell staff members then met Molly’s mom at the airport. She arrived at the hospital to see Molly in the ICU but with her eyes open.
“That was pretty good to see that,” Susan Deimeke said. “I could tell she didn’t recognize me but (her eyes) were open and she was talking and that meant a lot.”
Susan Deimeke then used her U.S. contacts to begin a search for Molly’s passport and other personal belongings that were not with her at the Bangkok hospital.
After reaching out to Rep. Jay Houghton and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, she was put in touch with U.S. Embassy officials in Thailand. The search ended very soon as she was told to report to the Cashier’s Office at the hospital within the next day. She she arrived, she was given Molly’s passport, iphone, and currency.
“Any time I called the embassy, they were Johnny-on-the-spot in getting stuff done,” she added.
Susan then sought out a neurosurgeon to begin the process of eventually getting Molly air lifted back to the U.S.
Due to air encephalitis, Molly couldn’t fly at high altitudes.
While travel arrangements were being made with an air ambulance service, Molly was beginning her recovery.
She was able to begin walking a week after her surgery, though with a pull to the right, but did suffer from expressive aphasia. Expressive aphasia is characterized by a loss of the ability to talk as she did before her accident.
“It was a blessing (to see her walk),” Susan Deimeke said. “So many people were saying that she was so lucky she could walk…The first day she walked was the first day she said I was her mom. They said who is that and she said that’s my mom.”
Susan said every day at 8 a.m. in Bangkok, she would Skype her ex-husband Larry and his wife Aggie at 8 p.m. in Missouri to figure out each day’s plans with Molly’s care.
Susan’s other daughter Leah is a nurse at Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis. Leah began making arrangements with Travel Care International out of Wisconsin.
The company was hired on June 7. Fortunately, the man who owns the company had a son that lived in China, who arrived in Thailand to make the tirp.
Two weeks after Molly’s fall, she and her mom were on a jet filled with medical equipment, a paramedic, a nurse, pilot, and co-pilot.
The journey home had stops for fuel in the Philippines and the Marshall Islands after 10 hours. The Deimekes then flew to Honolulu, Hawaii, arrived at a small California airport, and changed planes.
After another stop in Colorado Springs, Colo., they arrived at Lambert Airport in St. Louis on Friday, June 13 at around 5 a.m. Molly saw Larry and Aggie, and recognized her father, who rode in the ambulance with her to St. Louis University Hospital.
“He needed to see her and touch her and all of that,” Susan said about Larry, who was missing his daughter.
Currently, Molly is at Mercy Rehab after her family took her there by their car.
Susan said Molly can walk on her own and can walk steps.
She added that Molly is getting better with when it is appropriate to comment during a conversation.
One example was when her sister Leah didn’t start driving when the light turned green. Molly told Leah she wasn’t moving fast enough.
“Before I left her there, she said mom, this is overwhelming,” Susan Deimeke said. “That brought tears to my eyes. “…We know she have a very long way to go.”
Molly is expected to have two to four impatient rehabilitation and 2-4 weeks outpatient rehabilitation. Susan Deimeke quickly notes the hand of God in her daughter’s journey from a bad fall in Laos back to a hospital bed in Missouri.
“All of the prayers; we fell the power of prayer and we know that is what has gotten us to this stage,” Susan Deimeke said. “…The power of prayer has been wonderful. The support that has been on Facebook has just been amazing. It kept me sane and lifted me up when I’d read it in Thailand. It helped me so much. People I didn’t know and people that didn’t know Molly said they were willing to pray for us.”
She added that she’s thankful ACHD has worked with her to help her be with Molly during this difficult time.
“I have to thank them for everything they’ve done to make it possible for met to be with my baby girl,” Susan Deimeke said. “…What this is proof to me is that there’s good people all over the world. I’ve only been shown kindness everywhere I’ve gone. This has been an amazing story…The help the Paul Mitchell were in Bangkok just blew us away and the kids in Laos came to see her in Bangkok. Diana’s dad has already called me at home and wanted to keep up with her. They were just her angels.”