Most parents would rather be stuck in the hospital themselves than see their children suffer, and Josh Trimble is no different.
Each night the 33 year-old father from Shawnee, Oklahoma has to say goodbye to his seven-month-old daughter, Opal Rose. Opal is hospitalized with a serious neurological disease called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (ACM) and faces an uncertain future, so her parents are always trying to find ways to make the hospital feel more like home and let her know she’s not alone.
“Treatment AFM is considered experimental at best,” Josh explained. “Opal has had two rounds, five doses per round, of IVIG treatment as well as plasmapheresis administered over a ten-day period.”
In spite of her exhausting treatment the tiny child seems always to have a smile on her face, but she saves her biggest grins for her daddy. In an effort to help with her rehabilitation and bond with Opal, Josh came up with a sweet way to say goodbye each night when he leaves the hospital to care for the family’s two older children.
Josh’s wife Gretchen Trimble captured the sweet chest pound ritual on film one evening and shared it to her Facebook page, where it quickly went viral. In the brief clip we see Josh standing by his daughter’s bedside. Unable to touch or hug her through her oxygen tent, Josh pounds his fist against his chest and urges Opal to do likewise. Seconds later she does just that, warming the hearts of all who see the video!
“Only one of Gretchen and I can stay with Opal overnight,” he said. “As her father, it’s always tough on me to leave her each and every night. “On this particular night, I had the thought of pounding on my chest to signify to her that we symbolically share a heartbeat.”
“As parents, it was extremely difficult for Gretchen and me to make the decision to give her these treatments, given the risks associated with them and knowing there is a very good chance they may not be effective. Our doctors feel like we’ve done as much as we can do as far as treatment, and now we need to focus on rehabilitation through therapies.”
Josh explained that the fist bumping not only helps Opal and Josh feel connected, it also helps with her recovery. “Her therapists had been working with her on trying to get her to make intentional movements, like reaching out for a toy,” said Josh. “The fact that she mimicked her daddy so precisely told us that she knew what she wanted to do, and she did it.”
Now whenever Opal sees her father walk into the hospital room the little girl pounds her chest. Josh says that this small gesture means the world to him, especially because his daughter is still too young to communicate in any other way.
“Even though she and I may be physically separated for a moment in time, much like eternity, our heartbeat represents my forever presence. Though Opal can’t speak yet, it brings me so much joy knowing she understands and can reciprocate the love of her father.”
Josh and Gretchen continue to stay by their daughter’s bedside as she fights her way towards wellness. We’re certain that the love she feels from her family will help sustain her through this difficult time, and now the whole world is also pulling for Opal to get well soon.
Watch Josh and Opal’s sweet chest pounding ritual in the video below, and don’t forget to share.
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