Paralyzed teen surprised with puppy after spending months fighting to get better

Caitlin Barker has been confined to her bed since her diagnosis, but has improved overtime

San Antonio – A San Antonio teenager who has been fighting to get better for over a year after being paralyzed from a neurological disorder was rewarded the puppy she’s always wanted.

Caitlin Barker has been dealing with Transverse Myelitis since July 2019.

“I couldn’t feel my legs that well on July 2,” Caitlin Barker said. “I had pain on my right side of my stomach and my legs were burning a bit. The next day, I couldn’t walk at all. I had to crawl down the stairs. I was in a lot of pain and had to be rushed to the emergency room.”

Pain led to her being paralyzed from the neck down. At first, doctors believed she was suffering from GBS, but they would later learn, it was Transverse Myelitis.

“I had to be on a breathing tube multiple times because my lungs kept filling with fluid,” Caitlin Barker said. “I had multiple lung collapses. I had swelling on my spine, which caused the myelin to be damaged resulting in my paralysis.”

Several months later, Caitlin has come a long way.

“I can straighten my fingers on my right hand a lot,” Caitlin Barker said. “My left hand has started picking up weights in physical therapy. My legs keep moving uncontrollably more and more and I am getting better at sitting up. MY voice is stronger too. It doesn’t go out as much anymore. I am having much more fun now that I can go out now that I am not on bed rest.”

“A lot of happy tears and just, you know, when I feel like so overwhelmed with how things are and I look back on all of her old videos and she has come so far and is doing so well,” said Chassidy Barker, her mother.

All of her hard work to get better was motivated by a special gift promised to her by her dad.

“When you see her in a bed on a breathing and feeding tube paralyzed from the neck down, I didn’t want her giving up and I know how bad she wanted a puppy, so I made a deal with her,” said Kirk Barker, her father. “‘You get better, we’ll get you a puppy.’”

“Well I have always wanted a dog and Dad said no. So when I had my second lung collapse, it was really bad, so dad said I could get a puppy,” Caitlin Barker said. “I was like, ‘this was totally worth it.’”

Her parents made the surprise just before Christmas.

“It was like an early Christmas present for me,” Caitlin Barker said. “It was my favorite Christmas present I got. I was so caught off guard because dad was always like, ‘No! No! No to a dog.’ I didn’t know we were getting him.”

The family named the puppy Midnight.

“Just to be able to see her smile and happy for a moment and not worrying about all of her health issues and getting to be a normal kid,” said Chassidy Barker. “That was definitely worth it.”

“Things happen for a reason and it is what we want to do with the blessings and trails we go through,” Kirk Barker said. “I am just proud of her that she hasn’t given up and has continued to fight.”

Now, the family is raising money to be able to afford training Midnight as a service animal.

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About the Authors

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.

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