From working at WCB to living in an RV

Kim Tucker was 36 years old when she had a massive stroke. She had a good government job, working as an accountant at the Yukon Workers' Compensation, Health and Safety Board. She has three teenage children.

Kim Tucker was 36 years old when she had a massive stroke.

She had a good government job, working as an accountant at the Yukon Workers’ Compensation, Health and Safety Board.

She has three teenage children.

And she was renting a house in Copper Ridge.

Three years later, she’s living out of an RV in a friend’s backyard.

Tucker and her partner first moved to the Yukon because of its job opportunities.

He works as a welder and can make twice as much money in the North as he can down south.

And Tucker found a sweet gig with the government – but was only hired as an “auxiliary on-call.”

That meant she wasn’t entitled to any benefits.

One Saturday morning in July, just before her daughter’s 15th birthday, she started feeling ill.

Tucker took a nap and woke up even more out of it, slurring her speech.

She saw a number of doctors, none of whom could figure out what was wrong.

Finally, one of the doctors ordered a brain scan and discovered that she’d had a serious stroke.

Other than the debilitating stroke, things were OK at first.

Tucker went on employment insurance and received funding from Service Canada for retraining.

“Because I used to be an accountant. I used to be able to look at a balance sheet and say, ‘OK, this is wrong, this is wrong and this is wrong,” she said.

“Now numbers look like Greek to me.”

This funding came with a $600-a-month living allowance.

Her middle daughter, who had graduated and was working full-time, began pitching in.

But the house they were renting in Copper Ridge was expensive.

And because of problems with the furnace, fuel cost between $600 and $800 a month during the winter.

They got by, despite the loss of Tucker’s income.

But then her Service Canada funding ran out.

And her daughter got pregnant and decided to move in with her boyfriend.

“We ended up getting evicted because we couldn’t afford it,” she said.

Her partner is now in the process of repaying their landlord.

As a result, he’s only really bringing home $2,000 a month.

With little money and nowhere else to go, Tucker and her family moved in with her in-laws.

They lived there for a year, contributing money for rent and expenses. But the situation was less than ideal.

“It was a very difficult living situation, I guess is a good way to put it.”

When things got to be too much, she and her partner moved into a friend’s RV.

Tucker’s youngest daughter just graduated from high school and has moved in with her boyfriend.

“I don’t like it much, because she’s 17. But I understand it,” she said, looking around the small RV, half of which is taken up with her bed.

The RV is a temporary thing and definitely not something that Tucker and her partner will be trying to do over the winter.

“I can’t do the cold. The cold makes the pain and spasticity worse.”

“What we’re hoping is to stay here through the summer – hopefully save up a bit of cash – and hopefully, by the fall, something decent will come up.”

She doesn’t know what bylaw services might think of two people living out of an RV in a residential neighbourhood.

“We’re hoping like heck that it’s OK because, otherwise, I’m in trouble,” she said.

“But we’ll do what we have to do because we will not go back to live with the in-laws. We won’t.”

Right now, Tucker and her partner can afford around $1,000 a month and only need a one-bedroom rental.

Because of her condition, she needs something on ground level, without too many stairs.

The home also needs to be pet friendly, to accommodate her two lapdogs.

“They’re my therapy, there’s no way that I’m giving them up,” she said.

“They’re my walking partners, my exercise partners – they make me get up in the morning.”

Tucker has applied to Yukon Housing, but hasn’t heard anything from them so far.

Leaving Whitehorse and its housing shortage is out of the question, she said.

“I won’t go. My granddaughter’s here. I won’t go. But I guess if it wasn’t for the baby, I probably would.”

Tucker hopes to get working again soon.

She’ll probably always require 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, according to her neurologist.

“So I’ll never be able to go back to work full-time.”

But Tucker now has a diploma in counselling.

She’s been doing some volunteer work with The Second Opinion Society, working with the city’s disabled and homeless.

She’d like to open her own business counselling the disabled and will be doing a feasibility workshop with Dana Naye Ventures.

“Because of being there myself, I have sort of a unique perspective as to how it affects the family,” she said.

“Like I always tell people, I don’t just preach this stuff. I live it.”

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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