Picture this. You're out shopping. Thankfully, you found some amazing pieces of clothing that you're dying to find out if they fit so you can spend your hard earned money on them. You're ready to go try some things on in the changing rooms and when you step into the room you're greeted with the smell of.... poo. Yes. Some un-thoughtful parent left their baby's adult sized bomb unsealed in a diaper right there in the bottom of the waste bin. The smell is awful. It's so thick you could probably visualize it, much like on the cartoons.
As your stomach churns, you have to make a choice. You just waited 15 minutes for a changing room (it's holiday season I guess) - do you stay, and make an effort to manage this, or do you give up your room and return the the line (or queue as our Brit friends would say)?
You decide to stay. And guess what? The smell gets better!! A few minutes in, you can hardly even smell it anymore! This is fantastic! You continue to try on clothes without a care in the world.
This fun instance is an example of what we call accommodation. Our bodies and brains are fantastic at it. Given the presence of a constant, unimportant stimulus/stimuli, we gradually phase out the recognition of said stimulus to allow our brain to focus on other things. In other words, your brain allows you to forget that your room smells like a port-a-potty. This is similar to having a jackhammer start up outside your window at work. Initially, it is quite jarring. But as it goes out, we slowly block it out and forget it is even there. It take the REMOVAL (turning off the jackhammer) of the stimulus at that point to remind our brain it was there at all. The same with poo-poo diaper. Take it out of the room, introduce a new stimuli (fresh smell air), and you remember what it is like to not be in a room of defecation.
Equally as interesting, once accommodated, we can add more stimulus to the situation without your brain taking notice. So you would never know if we continued to add 1, 2, even 3 more stinky diapers to the mix (given you don't see us invading your privacy) without you brain ever registering it.
I give you this analogy because, as healthcare providers, it is easy to get stuck in the proverbial shit. And once you're in the middle of it, your brain sometimes forgets you're there. So much to the point that more shit can be added, and you won't even notice it. Once you're in the middle of the shit, you don't recognize more shit coming at you. It literally takes you being removed from it to understand what you were in initially. This can happen in all aspects of healthcare - from self care, to those who you surround yourself with **(THIS IS SO IMPORTANT)** , to patient care and care techniques.
As you dive deeper into your practice and your lifestyle as a healthcare provider, please always allow yourself a breath of fresh air, to get rid of the poo smell that you may have been lingering in. This could be a course, a blog, a podcast, and conversation, a new friend or mentor. Always strive for change so that you don't get mired down in the yuck of life.
Eric is a Physical Therapist who owns his own clinic in Chandler AZ. He is the author of Breathe Better, a father to 3 awesome kids, and a husband to Ashley who is also a physical therapist.