Renee-Nicole Douceur concedes 2011 wasn’t a good year for her, but after the 59-year-old engineer survived a stroke while stationed at the South Pole, she considers herself very lucky and is exceedingly grateful that she’s on the way to what should be a full recovery.
“I’d say I’m about 80 percent back right now,” said Douceur, a Lowell University-trained nuclear engineer who once worked at Seabrook’s nuclear power plant. “I’m still having trouble with my short-term memory, but my vision is much better and I can drive now. If I’m talking a lot, sometimes I slur my words, and now and then I can make up some crazy words. But I recognize when I’m doing that, and I correct myself.”
Douceur’s stroke last year made national headlines. At the time she suffered it, she was in a remote scientific station in Antarctica. She remained there almost two months before being evacuated to a hospital.
Since April, Douceur’s been undergoing her recuperation at a campsite in Hampton Falls in the 45-foot-long luxury coach she calls “The Gypsy Queen.” It’s been her year-round home since 2006. The mobile nature of the enormous, self-sustaining vehicle fits Douceur’s style perfectly.
For most of the more than 13 years she worked at Seabrook Station in various capacities, Douceur lived in a large home in Hampstead, N.H., then downsized to a condo in Plaistow. But her love of driving, travel and desire to see what’s around the next bend in the road led her to have the coach custom built so she could stay put or take off as she chose.
For a couple of years prior to making her move to Antarctica, she’d spend her summers in Hampton Falls, and when the campground closed, find a site in Seabrook that welcomed her. She even drove the mobile home to and from work at the power plant on a daily basis.