Kennewick mom encourages gratitude after life-saving surgery

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Over a month after surgery on her left Carotid artery, mother to six, Barbie Beeks is grateful for the person who finally listened.

“Because I didn’t have long to be here on earth if it wouldn’t have been for her to listen to me,” she said.

Barbie said she’s lived with migraines and weakness throughout her body, for decades. In recent years, she began losing her vision and memory. At one point she thought it might’ve been a brain tumor or Alzheimer’s.

“Sometimes those headaches would hit so hard, I couldn’t use my left side for hours, sometimes days, I’d lay in bed,” she said.

Barbie, who lived in The Dalles for most of her life, would go to doctors and get treatment for migraines.

“Giving me high doses of medication and pain pills and sending me on my way,” she recalled.

But, Barbie knew it was something else. Her breaking point came last year, when she was driving with her son.

“I had to pull over to the side of the road; I’d lost all vision on my left side and was loosing vision on my right,” she said.

Shortly after, Barbie moved to Kennewick with her fiance and eight-year-old daughter, for better healthcare. That’s when she met ophthalmologist Dr. Cheryl Lee who dug deeper into Barbie’s complaints.

“I was happy, but I was also scared,” Barbie said.

Dr. Lee refferred Barbie to a vascular surgeon at Kadlec Hospital, who then ordered tests and scans.

“And thank goodness because it showed it showed even more of a blockage and it wasn’t just one side, it was both sides,” Barbie said her Carotid arteries were severely blocked.

In October of 2020, Barbie underwent surgery to unblock her left Carotid artery. Since then, she’s been on the road to recovery.

“It was just a matter of time and I had no idea. I do not have to have my bifocals any more to see, also I do not have one headache and I don’t have no weakness; I’m getting my memory back,” Barbie said.

It turns out, the condition Barbie has is also hereditary, so she immediately told her children to get tested.

As for the migraines, Barbie was told she was having small and weak strokes, hence the loss of feeling and strength in her limbs.

In 2021, Barbie will undergo surgery for her other artery. For now, she enjoys homeschooling her eight-year-old daughter and the little things, which used to be exhausting, like getting the mail.

“I absolutely have my life back,” she exclaimed.

Although Thanksgiving will look very different this year, Barbie is looking forward to it, and, she encouraged everyone to find something to be thankful for.

“Look at their children, look at their families, maybe a milestone in your health you know one little thing,” she said.

Even if it’s just life itself.

“I am just so grateful to be here. It’s just wonderful to have another chance at life again,” Barbie said.

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