“I didn’t get to the doctors until almost eight weeks after the stroke,” she said. “They don’t know what caused it, but they think it could have been a combination of the stress of the job, the high altitude and lack of oxygen.”
Douceur believes if she had shown more obvious stroke symptoms, officials may have moved more quickly. But because she could still function, she believes they didn’t take her conditions seriously and that the high cost of getting her off the South Pole became too important a factor, something Raytheon denied. According to a published report, Raytheon spokesman Jonathan Kasle said the company worked with the National Science Foundation to ensure Douceur got out on the first safe available flight.
Douceur left Baltimore in November, recuperating initially with Yushkevich. When she was able to drive again, she picked up the Gypsy Queen and returned to Hampton Falls. She continues her work improving her skills daily with prescribed exercises, and she visits doctors at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital, who took over her case.
Although she hasn’t ruled out suing Raytheon over having to battle for evacuation after the stroke, Douceur’s also considering writing a book about her ordeal. Yet more than anything else, she’s grateful the stroke wasn’t worse, that she’s progressing well and that she can drive and travel again.
“Driving is my passion,” she said.
And soon, she’ll engage that passion, moving out, heading west.
“I’m going to Jackson, Wyo.,” she said. “The West is more RV friendly than the East, and Jackson has a good hospital. After what I’ve been through, I’ve come to value having good medical facilities close by.”