Care Tuk Bionic Mermaid: Oceaninadrop Feature Story


Alaska is pretty far away from New Zealand.

So when Care and I found ourselves attending the same seminar in California, we decided to do a little gift swap. I picked out a t-shirt with a Maori warrior design for her. I got a little Care package full of ‘Flavour of Alaska’: a polar bear calendar, a moose nugget necklace (yep), a cute pack of playing cards with Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) photos, and a moose-print oven mitt.  There was also a bonus surprise: her upbeat and endearing book: Loose Screws and Skinned Knees.

Her story is tremendous, and reminds me that the most lovely and loving people I’ve met, are often those who have thrived in spite of incredible setbacks. Of course, I do not believe that life has to be hard before we start to find any meaning in it. I do however admire the beautiful softness and funny she exudes: the hallmark of one who has had to quite literally let herself go to pieces and unravel in front of others, only to reveal a solid inner core of strength.

Care and Bill. Alaska. #Oceaninadrop

“Me and Mr Incredible.” Care and Bill have been married for 40 years. They have two children, Jamie and Tim. P.s ‘The Incredible Hulk’, as he was nicknamed in college, was 9th in the USA heavyweight wrestling in his day.


Here she shares her answers for our #OceanInADrop Share Your Story questions.

(They come with the free colouring sheet download.)

Name: Care Tuk, Med, OTR/L (Ret)      

Where you were born: Seattle, Washington, USA

Where you live now: Wasilla, Alaska, USA

The last time you colored in some artwork was… two weeks ago

Your study / work story:

I am a rural home health, hospital and school occupational therapist by career training, and worked for 35 years.

I have battled cancer 14 times. I have also been hit by a drunk driver, which resulted in a three-compartment brain bleed 15 years later. All this combined to turn me into a bionic woman, who learnt to walk and talk all over again. My head had a craniotomy. My neck is fused and screwed together in two places. My back has been plated together in four places, right arm has plate and 10 screws, right leg has prototype interior prosthetic leg, left knee has been replaced, both arms are held up by #25 mono filament fishing line, and my face has been rebuilt – thus earning me the name ‘Mrs. Loosescrews’ by high school kids.

I retired, and used my rehab time to develop a greeting card line using my name: Because I Care, and I have self- published a best-selling book Loose Screws and Skinned Knees: Turning Life’s Obstacles and Adversity into Opportunities and Adventure (available at Amazon and Kindle) . Currently, Book 2: And Yet Another Day, and Book 3: Don’t Wimp Out are in progress.

We live at the base of the Talkeetna Mountains on the Little Su (Susitna) River north of Wasilla, Alaska, where we watch the Aurora Borealis from our front room!

Your interests and passions:

Anything to do with the outdoors: swimming, collecting ‘heart and cross’ rocks at the river and ocean, hiking, snow machining, snow shoeing, writing and spending time with family: my husband Bill, our two grown kids and grandson.

Your favorite water creature (yes, more than one is ok):
Seals and puffins.


Share a good memory with water**:

I love the water, as I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, USA, with all it’s ocean beaches (Cannon Beach, Oregon, is my favorite with all the tide pools!). I grew up on Lake Washington, and visited many other lakes, rivers, ocean beaches, inland passages and islands ( love Whidbey Island and San Juan Islands), in my 6 decades of living.

Favourite water activities have been SCUBA diving, and exploring tide waters with our kids. We learned to SCUBA dive as a family when the kids were teens. We have explored the waters of the Pacific Northwest: Alaska (all over the state), California (Malibu), Oregon (Cannon Beach), and Washington (Puget Sound). Our favorite is Tobago, in the West Indies, where we got to experience sea life we were not accustomed to.

I learned to swim as a tot, and was on the swim team later on. I then coached age group swim teams. I consider myself 1/2 fish, as water has helped me rehab from my 110 (so far) surgeries, being bionic, and teaching many to enjoy the water. As an occupational therapist, I teach adapted aquatics – even to people in a coma and quadriplegics!

We hot tub even at minus 30C (minus 20F) – just have to remember not to sit on the edge and leave part of your tush on the side of the hot tub!!

I am blessed to have found the love of my life loving water just as much as I do, and love to share Candace’s project everywhere I go! If I can stay healthy in 2016, the project will find it’s way into school districts in Alaska!!

How does coloring in this piece of art feel? What do you think about this project?

Coloring this piece made me think of the precious time I had with the equally precious Candace Loy, and the connection we made. (Eds: Care has not been paid or coerced into saying this!)

My mind wandered to the many waters Bill and I have explored-lakes, rivers, oceans: over our 40 years of marriage, and our 60+ years of living on, and near water.

I often gaze out to the river from my office window in Alaska, marveling at the power of nature, as the river has been ‘rearranged’ in its path of travel once again, as a storm with high water changes its course – wondering what new treasures we will find when the rains abate.


Care Tuk - Alaska

Care Tuk. Beloved Bionic Mermaid.


“Obstacles and adversity are common to us all. But turn them into adventures, and you have a hallmark of a powerful, fruitful, FUN life! This book is a message of strength, hope and overcoming odds, while finding significance and meaning in it all.”

Care Tuk. Alaska's Beloved Bionic Mermaid

Care Tuk. Alaska’s Beloved Bionic Mermaid



**This question has been inspired by Dr Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Mind, and founder of the Slow Coast movement started by J and his wife, Dana, in California. Blue Mind shares the science that shows being in, or near water is really good for your brain.

We know we love water: seeing the sea, looking at beautiful beach photos, walking along the shore, swimming with fishes, and playing in the waves, make many people happy and feel free. This book shows how important it really is for your wellbeing. When chatting with people, J gets people to share their water stories.  “I wish you water.”

Free coloring-in for Ocean Lovers


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