AUSTIN, Texas — Molly Miller smiled as she pulled a picture of her kids off a filing cabinet and showed it to her computer camera during a Zoom interview.
"They are the best. They keep me going," she said.
Miller is a mom of two, a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. The youngest was just 3 months old when Miller returned to work from maternity leave in March 2020 as a bedside nurse in the ICU during the first two COVID-19 surges.
"That was probably the scariest thing for me was just bringing it back to him," she remembered, talking about her struggle of wanting to help patients but worrying what she'd bring home to her family.
Miller is now the nurse manager of the ICU at Baylor, Scott & White in Lakeway.
With potential for another surge in the coming months, she said she's concerned that she may, once again, have to stay away from her kids during the holidays and said she's frustrated we're still fighting this.
"It's scary, to say the least. It's scary because we know what's coming," Miller said. "Before, in the first few surges, we didn't know what was coming; we didn't know how to treat it. It was just this – it was like this war that was about to happen, but we didn't know when the attack was coming or even know how to fight the enemy," she said.
Now, Miller said she hopes more people will get vaccinated for the safety of themselves and others, like kids who aren't old enough to get the shots.
"I think that's the hardest part for me," Miller said. "We deal with this every day, and I'm vaccinated and my husband's vaccinated, but we need people to get vaccinated to protect them."
Health care workers have made a lot of sacrifices this year. They've missed holidays and stayed away from family to keep them safe. Miller said it's forced some people out of the profession.
"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't also thought about leaving the ICU," said Miller. "How much longer can I do this? How many more surges can I do? I've for sure cried to my husband, like, 'I don't know how to fix this.'"
That's a tough pill to swallow when your job is to heal people. However, Miller said she's determined to keep working.
"I'm not going to leave the fight," she said.
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