NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Kathryn Sherman became a nurse hoping to save lives.
She never imagined that she would lose so many so needlessly.
"I don't want anybody to end up suffering the way that my patients have suffered," Sherman told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
"I have resigned myself to the fact that, for many people, that is how they're going to learn."
One day in July of last year, Sherman became a nurse.
The next day, she was assigned to her hospital's intensive care unit, coming face to face every shift with a pandemic killer.
"In the past year, new nurses did not get to be new nurses," she recalled.
"We were charge nurse two and three months off orientation, if that. We were having to take care of an entire unit in addition to our own patient load because there simply wasn't the staff."
Last November, she posted a tweet that went viral, comparing a photo of her as an idealistic nursing student and a photo of her looking exhausted, her face bearing the marks of protective equipment designed to try to keep her safe.
NewsChannel 5 asked, "What's the difference emotionally between those two young women?"
"The one on the right saw a lot more people die," Sherman answered. "A lot of death, a lot of suffering that I knew I would see to some extent, but I didn't think it was going to be that much, that fast."
Having been a nurse for just over a year, how many people has she seen die from COVID?
"Too many to count."
For Sherman and her fellow nurses, this wave -- with the Delta variant once again filling ICUs -- is tragically different.
"The first time we all banded together, and there was the adrenaline fight-or-flight response that all health care workers had, and now we don't have that anymore," she said.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Because you're just so exhausted?"
"We're exhausted, and we're frustrated, and we wish that people would just listen to us."
Unlike earlier in the pandemic, the people she sees dying now are those who simply made the decision not to get the vaccine.
"I'm really, really angry all the time," the young nurse said.
"Because people are dying who don't need to die."
That frustration showed through in a video diary she recorded for us at the end of a recent shift.
Watch Kathryn's video diary below:
"I am so tired of the people who are creating their own reality where COVID is not a problem, and then they have the audacity to get mad at people like me when we try to show them that, no, this is real," the visibly tired ICU nurse said.
That young nursing student's idealism has now been shattered by the horrors of this virus.
"I am talking about the people who survived COVID and now they are going to be dependent on oxygen the rest of their life, the people who survived COVID and now they're going to live in a nursing facility for the rest of their life. Because of COVID, they had an anoxic brain injury and now they are so brain-damaged that they cannot care for themselves."
In a recent Twitter thread, Kathryn described how the initial COVID waves eventually subsided, allowing her to see the ICU as a place where death was not always standing watch.
"The things I did mattered. My actions actually saved lives. No longer was death my constant silent companion."
But, now, death has returned, thanks to those who once denied the reality that Sherman knows all too well.
"You learn the hard way and I see it through. I carry the weight of your choices and the pain they cause," she tweeted.
"It didn't have to be like this.""
It didn't have to be like this.— Kathryn Ivey (@kathryniveyy) August 1, 2021
Sherman hopes that, if you're not vaccinated, you'll make plans to go right away to get the shot that has now been proven to save lives -- so that you do not become another one of her many patients.