A nurse in Iowa City has been caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients since March. She never thought one of her own family members would end up in her intensive care unit.
"We are all exhausted and it's easy to get rundown and defeated and feel like you are alone," said Bridget Otto, a nurse in Iowa City.
Even through the end of her pregnancy, she spent long days caring for coronavirus patients clinging to life.
"A lot of my patients' family members said when they have it that they feel like they are never the same and that COVID took something from them, and I never will forget that," Otto said.
COVID-19 nearly took something from her too: Her father. He became sick at the end of September and spent weeks in her ICU.
"He was an active farmer and he was climbing up and down grain bins and out of equipment to I can't move my hands and legs. An it's just a result of being on a ventilator for four weeks sedated and paralyzed and not moving," Otto said.
She watched as her co-workers cared for her father each day. A painful sight, but also a relief he was in good hands.
"It was one of the reasons I was able to go home at night and actually sleep," Otto said.
He's still on oxygen support, but Bridget's father continues to recover, and has vowed to walk before his grandson, Graham. Sadly, that's not the reality of all of her patients.
"I just want people to know that there is a real, true suffering out there and it is a direct result of this virus. And that it's not if you'll be affected someday, it's when," Otto said.
In an effort to educate others, Bridget posted her very personal story to social media. The post has now been shared more than a thousand times.
"A lot of people don't see what we see, or don't believe it. We don't really have a choice to believe it or not in our ICU since we see it," Otto said.
She hopes her message resonates so no other Iowans have to see their loved ones in the ICU.
"I don't want to miss out on holidays either, but I'm going to. It's the right thing to do," Otto said.