Category Archives: Health Tips

Dr. Androssov Offers Five Tips to Help You Make Your Health a Priority

For many of us, the good intentions and resolutions that came with the New Year are a distant memory by now. Many of us have slowly moved away from making health conscious decisions and have fallen back into our old habits.

Old habits die hard, and it can be difficult to find ways to get back on track. Family medicine physician, Dr. Andrei Androssov, offers 5 tips to help you make your health a priority.

  1. Go the extra mile – A few extra steps here and there can have a big impact on your health. Try working them in throughout your day.
    • Go for a parking spot that is a little further away.
    • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
    • Walk to the mailbox instead of driving.
    • Take a sunset stroll along the beach.
    • Use a fitness device to monitor your progress and motivate you with a little friendly competition!
  2. Make time for what you love – When we are busy and stressed, it can be difficult to take time to slow down and enjoy the things you love. However, when stress levels are high, it is most important to find time to relax. Whether it is going to the beach, working in your garden, doing yoga, or making art, it is important to schedule a dedicated time for your favorite activity and stick to it–your physical and mental health will thank you!
  3. Cut the sugar – Today’s foods are packed with unnecessary sugars and it can be tricky to determine what is healthy and what is loaded with sugar. We all know that cookies and cakes are unhealthy, but products like oatmeal, snack bars and salad dressings can contain just as much sugar as grandma’s homemade pie. Read your labels and don’t be fooled by products that are disguised as healthy.
  4. Learn to say no – Saying no can be hard, but it empowers you to focus on your priorities—like your health. Say no to that piece of birthday cake. Say no to that second glass of wine. Say no to commitments that will over extend you or take away from the time designated to your health and wellness.
  5. Give yourself a break – If you make poor choices and fall behind on your health goals, don’t beat yourself up. Becoming disappointed will only increase your likelihood of falling further behind. Cut yourself some slack, and reprioritize what needs to change to make your health a priority again. Set small obtainable goals, and go from there!

As always, be sure to consult your primary care physician prior to starting a new exercise program or making changes in your nutrition. Your primary care physician can provide additional suggestions on getting and staying healthy.

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Recognize the Signs of Parkinson’s Disease: Insights from Neurologist, Dr. Raymond Capps

Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating condition that affects up to 1 million people in the U.S.[i] The average onset age of the disease is 60 years old[ii], but it can affect people much younger, even those in their teens or 20s.White-Wilson neurologist, Dr. Raymond Capps, has been caring for patients with Parkinson’s disease for over 30 years. He understands the effects of this progressive, neurodegenerative disorder and works with patients to manage its symptoms.

“Parkinson’s disease can be frightening,” said Dr. Capps. “However, by recognizing the signs, understanding your risk factors and working with a neurologist to develop a treatment plan, you can change the course of the disease.”

Spotting signs of the disease early is key. Dr. Capps offers insights on how to recognize early symptoms:

  • Tremors or shaking in you finger, thumb, hand, chin or lip
  • A sudden change in handwriting, particularly small or cramped lettering
  • Partial or complete loss of smell
  • Masked face, a blank or expressionless stare
  • Trouble walking, less arm movement or trouble lifting feet

“Advancements in treatment options are astonishing,” said Dr. Capps. “Today, patients with Parkinson’s disease are able to manage the symptoms and maintain their quality of life.”

Parkinson’s disease is a slow progressing disease, and its symptoms can be managed for decades.

“Until there is a cure for Parkinson’s disease, my goal is to diagnose the disease early and work with patients to find treatment options that work for them,” said Dr. Capps. “This is how we can best manage the symptoms and ensure that patients continue to enjoy doing the things they love.”

Dr. Raymond Capps is a board-certified neurologist at White-Wilson Medical Center. He recently relocated from Tennessee to enjoy the beautiful Emerald Coast. He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and has over 30 years of experience.

Dr. Capps is accepting new patients at the White-Wilson Neurology Clinic in Fort Walton Beach. To learn more about Dr. Capps or to schedule an appointment, call 850-863-8169.

[i] Source: Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

[ii] Source: Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

Myth Busters: You Can Predict the Weather Based on Joint Pain

We have all heard a friend or family member say that there is going to be a change in weather, because they can “feel it in their bones.” Many claim to know that it is going to rain based on a feeling in their knee, elbow, ankle or shoulder; but is that just an old wives’ tale?

“Patients with arthritis often claim to experience increased swelling as the weather changes,” says Dr. Samuel Capra, an orthopaedic surgeon at White-Wilson Medical Center. “While we don’t have any hard and fast research to tell us why this is so common, the belief is that the changes in barometric pressure that come before a storm allows for additional swelling in problem areas.”

While we may not know the exact reason that these aches and pains occur, it may not be a bad idea to grab an umbrella the next time that you knee is feeling a little stiff.

This myth is plausible!

Immediate Care vs. Emergency Room

Many of us have been faced with deciding where to go for urgent care; Immediate Care or the Emergency Room. Immediate Care provides medical care for urgent but non-emergent needs.

The following list can help you decide where to go:

imc-v-er-list

Regular visits with your primary care provider can help detect potential issues before they surface.

If you’re still unsure of which facility is most appropriate, call ahead with any questions or concerns you may have.

Prevention is Key: Dr. Vergil Brown Weighs in on the Importance of Annual Wellness Exams

shutterstock_187421882The old adage by Benjamin Franklin is still true today—“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans use preventive services at about half of the recommended rate. Much of the time, individuals forgo these important screenings due to financial concerns, or time constraints.

Health insurance benefits can be confusing, and many people are unclear about what exams and screenings their health plan(s) may cover. Fortunately, most major health insurance plans pay for annual wellness exams and screenings.

“Routine annual visits serve many purposes for overall health,” said American Board of Internal Medicine certified physician, Vergil Brown, MD, PhD. “They provide continuity of care with your provider, and they allow your provider an opportunity to review your records and provide the most up to date vaccinations and screenings. They also allow an opportunity to address some conditions at an early stage, before they become more difficult to treat.”

Taking full advantage of the screenings and exams that your insurance plan will cover plays a big part in maintaining your overall health. Here is a list of the screenings and exams covered by most major insurance companies.

“As people age, these exams generally become more and more important. Accordingly, Medicare provides for the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit,” said Dr. Brown. “These visits allow your health care team to address your overall health needs and obtain the necessary screenings and exams to improve or maintain your health.”

The Care Coordination team at White-Wilson Medical Center works with your primary care physician to manage your overall health and conduct your yearly Medicare Annual Wellness Visit. These exams are covered in full by Medicare.

During these exams, your Care Coordination provider will work with you to ensure you are taking advantage of your benefits and getting disease-specific management and screenings. They serve as your partners in health.

“By taking a proactive approach to your health, you have an opportunity to find or prevent diseases and illnesses before they are life threatening,” said Dr. Brown.

Patients may contact our Care Coordination team at (850) 863-8244 to schedule a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit. Appointments are available at each White-Wilson Medical Center Clinic location.

Five Ways to Avoid the Flu

Dr. Van Shares How You Can Skip the Flu This Year

womanblowingnose-background removed v2While the leaves may not exactly change color along the Emerald Coast, we can count on more than college football to make a debut each Fall. Every year, millions fall victim to the annual flu. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 5 and 20 percent of the U.S. population will get the flu each year[1]—that results in about 200,000 hospitalizations[2] and thousands of deaths.

Although many recover after a few days or weeks, its important to note the flu can be life threatening—especially for the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with certain chronic health conditions. The best way to fight the flu is to avoid it altogether.

Dr. Vien Van, a physician at White-Wilson’s Immediate Care Clinic, shares 5 ways to avoid the flu this season.

  1. Get Vaccinated!The number one way to avoid the flu is by getting your flu shot—If you have not already been vaccinated, do so now. The flu hits as early as late fall and your body needs about two weeks to form protective antibodies. Make sure children (6 months or older) and the elderly receive their shots too, since they are at greatest risk.
  2. Close Contact = Flu Spreading.Its not rocket science, but avoiding contact with people that are sick can protect you from getting sick too. When you are sick, try to stay home from work, school and other errands to help prevent your illness from spreading to others. And don’t forget to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to help keep germs from spreading.
  3. Keep Clean. Cleaning your hands often will help protect you from germs that can lead to flu. It is a good idea to keep hand sanitizer close by during flu season, although warm soap and water is always the best way to wash your hands. Be sure to also clean and disinfect surfaces frequently touched—especially when someone in your home or office environment is sick.
  4. Avoid Eyes, Nose & Mouth—Flu germs can make their way into your system when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after you’ve touched something contaminated with germs.
  5. Practice Good Health—By staying healthy, you can help your body fight off the flu. Maintain a well balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, be physically active, watch your stress levels and get plenty of rest.

Don’t “flu around” with your health this fall. Follow these 5 simple suggestions to help avoid the flu.

[1] Molinari NA, et al. Vaccine 25 (2007)

[2] Zhou NA, et al.Vaccine 25 (2007)

Allergy Season Survival Guide

Allergy Season Survival Guide: Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) Specialist, Dr. William Gross, explains allergies and how to cope this season.

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Flowers are blooming, the weather is warming up and spring is here! We were fortunate to have a mild flu season this year, but if you’re one of the 50 million people in the United States who suffer from nasal allergies, you are not in the clear just yet.

According to White-Wilson Medical Center ENT Specialist, Dr. William Gross, “Seasonal allergies begin early on the Emerald Coast with tree pollens being the first allergens.”

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Dr. William Gross, ENT Clinic

Dr. Gross adds that we can become sensitized or allergic to many things other than pollen, including foods, house dust, pet dander and mold spores. Mold spore allergy is a major cause of many sinus problems.

The most common allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy nose, watery eyes or wheezing.  Occasionally, rashes, food sensitivities, headaches or severe swelling can be allergy related. Allergy symptoms are often mistaken for the common cold.

“While the common cold may mimic allergy symptoms, the symptoms of a cold usually do not last more than 10 days,” said Dr. Gross. “Some people describe their allergy and sinus problems as the cold that never went away. You should seek medical attention when your symptoms are affecting everyday life.”

According to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are one of the country’s most common, but overlooked, diseases. Although there is no cure for allergies, they can be managed with prevention and treatment.

“Allergies are treatable with allergy avoidance, medication and immunotherapy, such as allergy shots and drops,” said Dr. Gross. “You can also anticipate allergy season and begin treatment yourself with over the counter antihistamines and nasal sprays, such as Flonase or Nasacort, at the start of your allergy season

For many on the Emerald Coast, allergies are a fact of life. Dr. Gross encourages individuals not to prolong suffering from seasonal or perennial allergies. Today’s medical treatment options can be very helpful and effective.

“Surgery may be helpful for allergy and sinus problems, and endoscopic sinus surgery is available to help relieve chronic sinus problems,” said Dr. Gross. “There are now less invasive treatment options that can be done in a doctor’s office and require little or no downtime.”

You do not have to suffer with allergy and sinus problems. Pay attention to when your allergies flare up, and be proactive in seeking medical treatment when avoidance or over the counter medications are not effective. Once you get your allergies under control, be sure to stop and smell the roses this spring!

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To learn more about the White-Wilson ENT Clinic or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gross, call (850) 863-8275.

Tips for a Better School Year

S059QDGBOGAs families prepare for a new school year, keeping children in the classroom and out of the nurse’s office is a top priority. Dr. Evan Meeks, a pediatrician at White-Wilson Medical Center’s Niceville Clinic, offers 10 tips for a happy, healthy, and successful school year!

  1. Get back into a school routine. Set a bedtime and wake time schedule, and stick to it. Children need 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Plan for sick days. Discuss with your health care provider your concerns and plan for medical issues that may arise during the year.
  3. Schedule a checkup. An annual checkup helps monitor your school-aged child’s growth and development.
  4. Be sure eye glasses and contact lenses are up-to-date, before classes start. Consider having a spare pair to avoid missed school due to mishaps.
  5. Wash your hands. Discuss with children the importance of hand washing, and lead by example. Show them that washing hands before and after eating or visiting the bathroom is smart.
  6. Arm your entire family with a flu vaccine. Children should begin receiving the vaccine at 6 months of age.
  7. Learn to control asthma. Asthma causes much of the missed school and work in our community. Consider attending one of our Asthma Group Appointment Project (AGAP) sessions to learn to control flare ups.
  8. Take a vitamin. An age-appropriate multivitamin will provide you with all you the supplemental vitamins you need.
  9. Put it on your calendar. Being organized and prepared for a busy school year can help relieve stress. Families need to carve out time for what is important – work, play, sports, exercise, rest, holidays and fishing!
  10. Create a launchpad designated for homework, backpacks and sports equipment. Nothing is worse than doing your homework and forgetting it at home.

Dr. Meeks is an American Board of Pediatrics certified physician currently accepting new patients. He leads AGAP sessions in Niceville and Fort Walton Beach each month. Sessions are open to asthmatic adults, children and caregivers and you do not have to be a White-Wilson patient to enroll. Participants receive an Asthma Control Test™ and assessment, participate in group discussion and create an asthma action plan.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Meeks or other White-Wilson providers, call 850.863.8100. For a complete list of providers, visit www.white-wilson.com.

Beat the August Heat

As residents of the sunshine state, we bypass extreme temperatures all winter long; however, it is important to be aware that extreme summer temperatures are dangerous. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of more than 600 people die from complications related to extreme heat each year.

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As summer temperatures remain high through August, so does the risk for heat-related illness. Current forecasts predict temperatures remaining in the 80s and 90s, offering little relief for locals. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so that you can respond quickly in an emergency.

“Extreme heat can pose very serious health risks,” said White-Wilson Medical Center Family Medicine Physician, Dr. Christopher Hansen. “Signs of heat exhaustion include muscle cramping, heavy sweating, vomiting or fainting, and heat stroke signs include a body temperature above 103°F, lack of sweat, dry skin, rapid pulse or unconsciousness.”

Dr. Hansen recommends that you move indoors to air-conditioning and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms of heat-related illness.

These steps can help you beat the heat this summer:

  • Stay in an indoor air-conditioned location as much as possible. Air conditioning is the number one factor against heat-related illness and death, according to the CDC.
  • Drink more water than usual, and avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.
  • WaterAvoid heat exposure during the hottest hours of the day, usually 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Those who work outdoors should adjust their workday to limit over exposure during these hours.
  • Wear light colored and loose fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Don’t forget your wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
  • Pace your physical activity, starting slow.
  • Stay informed of local weather and extreme heat warnings.
  • Take a cool shower or bath to cool down.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars.
  • Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and respond quickly in an emergency.

“Heat-related illnesses are serious, but something we can avoid by using caution. Young children, the elderly and people with chronic disease or mental illness are at the highest risk for heat-related illness,” said Dr. Hansen. “It is important to be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illness and closely monitor the people that are dependent on you for their care.”

Dr. Christopher Hansen is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is currently accepting new patients at the White-Wilson Family Medicine Clinic in Fort Walton Beach. White-Wilson offers Family Medicine Clinics in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre and Niceville. For more information on White-Wilson Family Medicine providers or to schedule an appointment, call 850.863.6600 or visit www.white-wilson.com.

West Nile Virus Hits Close to Home

Floridians love to make the most of summer and its warm nights; however, so do mosquitos. Unfortunately, they can carry the West Nile Virus.  The Florida Health Department reported a confirmation of the mosquito-borne illness in Walton county on Friday.

While rare, West Nile Virus is no stranger to the Emerald Coast. The virus was first found in the United States in 1999 and infection rates vary each year. According to the Florida Department of Health, 69 cases of human infection were reported in Florida in 2012. That year, Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties each confirmed one case of the virus.

Approximately 70-80% of people who contract the virus experience no symptoms at all; for others, symptoms like fever, headache, vomiting, body aches and fatigue can be mild. However, for one percent of those who become infected, the virus can lead to irreversible neurological damage, paralysis, coma or in extreme cases, death.

We recommend these preventive steps to reduce your risk of infection:

  • Wear clothing that covers arms, legs, feet and neck.
  • Use insect repellent when outdoors and spray both exposed skin and clothing.
  • Close or cover doors and windows to prevent mosquitos from entering your home.
  • Drain any standing water around your home, including garbage cans, flower pots and toys.
  • Use extra caution between dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active.
  • Seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms.

Immediate Care Clinics are available for any urgent care needs and open seven days a week in Fort Walton Beach.

For more information on White-Wilson Immediate Care providers, call 850.863.8100 or visit www.white-wilson.com.

Keeping Blood Pressure in Check

Have you checked your blood pressure lately?

Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, the nation’s #1 cause of death.

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is one of the most common medical conditions Americans experience and a major contributor to heart attacks and stroke.

So, what exactly is blood pressure? Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and how blood flows through your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

People with hypertension commonly have no symptoms, so screening is essential. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get screened for hypertension at least once every two years.

Hypertension risk factors are usually external and include obesity, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and stress. This means most adults can easily prevent and control high blood pressure on their own. The Mayo Clinic recommends these simple steps to prevent hypertension:

Blog - Blood PressureVisit your family doctor once a year to discuss your risk of hypertension, and manage your overall health and wellness. White-Wilson offers primary care doctors in Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Navarre and Niceville. To find a primary care doctor or cardiologist, click here.

Bug Off!

Avoiding and Treating Insect Bites and Stings4.2.15 Blog Photo_smaller

Spring has sprung! And with warm weather comes tulips, daises… and unwanted pests.

White-Wilson has some tips to help prevent stings and bites, as well as what to do if you are stung.

In Florida, it’s nearly impossible to avoid bug bites and stings.

Tips to avoid the itch:

  • Apply insect repellent that contains DEET before going into heavily wooded areas. Be sure to watch DEET amounts with young children! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using repellents that contain no more than 30% DEET on children, and never applying on babies younger than 2 months.
  • Avoid large beds of flowers, standing puddles and ponds.
  • You are not the only one that loves some sugar! Try to keep sugary snacks or drinks inside.
  • Wear neutral colored clothing, since vibrant colors attract certain insects.

Although insect stings can be irritating, most cases are mild with little stinging, itching, redness and swelling.

Here are some tips to take care of mild reactions:

  • First and foremost, move to a safe area—indoors if possible.
  • If needed, remove the stinger in a quick, scraping motion.
  • Wash the area several times with soap and water.
  • Apply an ice pack or a cold, wet washcloth to reduce swelling.
  • Apply a topical ointment to the effected area. Products containing ingredients such as hydrocortisone, or pramoxine can assist in pain management. Creams such as calamine lotion or baking soda will help relieve the itch.

Signs of a bite or sting should disappear in a day or two. If symptoms remain longer, call your doctor or go to an immediate care facility.

Take immediate action if the following occurs after a sting:

  • Difficulty breathing, wheezing, tight chest.
  • Hives or swelling of the face or mouth.
  • Dizziness, fainting or rapid heartbeat.
  • Nausea, cramps or vomiting.

If you’re ever unsure about the condition of an insect sting or bite, contact your doctor or call 911 in an emergency. White-Wilson Immediate Care Clinic offers same day appointments and accepts walk-ins.

 

Immediate Care vs. Emergency Room

Many of us have been faced with deciding where to go for urgent care; Immediate Care or the Emergency Room. Immediate Care provides medical care for urgent but non-emergent needs.

The following list can help you decide where to go:

imc-v-er-list

Regular visits with your primary care provider can help detect potential issues before they surface.

If you’re still unsure of which facility is most appropriate, call ahead with any questions or concerns you may have.

Cold weather can really be a pain!

walkerWe all have aches and pains, and this time of year can have you feeling them more than usual. During colder months, many decrease their activity, exercise less and experience joint pain more. That joint pain can be frustrating, as well as a sign of something serious.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis and affects many. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down.

Gregg Graham, ARNP, in Orthopaedics provides a few tips to help stay active when you live with osteoarthritis.

Keep joints moving
Research shows that the painful effects of osteoarthritis develop faster in less active individuals. It is important to keep your joints moving to prevent pain and stiffness from setting in. Think of your joints as a car engine. It’s important to start the engine and lubricate the moving parts frequently to keep them going.

Choose the right activities
When you have osteoarthritis it is important to participate in activities that keep you moving without aggravating your joints. The best exercise options are low impact and in-line movements like riding a stationary bike, swimming or water aerobics. Jogging or walking should be done in moderation and only to tolerance.

Take care of your joints
Be sure to take care your joints, even when you’re not exercising. Knee sleeves and braces can help provide a sense of stability to knees and ankles and cold and heat therapy can help relieve pain. Cold reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels and numbing deep pain, while heat stimulates blood circulation, reducing muscle spasms. Other options include topical creams (Icy Hot, Aspercreme or Biofreeze), or using a cane or walker when walking or standing for long periods.

Fuel your bone health
A healthy diet incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, will provide essential vitamins and minerals important for bone health. A healthy diet will support weight loss which can help relieve arthritis knee pain.

Select the appropriate remedies
Joint pain related to osteoarthritis is caused by our bodies’ own process of inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories work to counteract inflammation and alleviate pain. There are a variety of supplements that can help with joint paint, including chondroitin or fish oil. Consult your primary care physician prior to beginning supplements or medications.

Despite the aches and pains, it is important to care for your joints by keeping your body moving!

How to beat cold weather blues!

weather_graphicBundle up! It’s going to be chilly for the next few days. But don’t let the cold weather get you down.

With winter, daylight is shorter and this can cause lethargy, irritability and depression. However, here are some tips to help boost your mood through this cold weather spell.

Exercise: Did you know that working out at least three times a week can reduce symptoms of depression with almost the same effectiveness as antidepressants? Not to mention, you’ll have more energy throughout the day and in turn boost your metabolism.

Eat Healthy: Eat foods that fuel your body with energy. The American Heart Association suggests consuming easily digested carbohydrates and lean protein, to avoid feeling lethargic. Eat healthy complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads, low-fat yogurt, brown rice, vegetables and fruits, and lean protein such as turkey, fish, quinoa and beans.

Spend Time Outside: The sun provides Vitamin D and can also improve your mood – sunlight releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. With cold weather, many of us are prone to stay indoors and spend less time outside. However, lack of sunlight can make you feel depressed.

If your busy schedule limits your chances at seeing sunlight try opening your blinds or updating your light bulbs to bulbs that mimic natural light.

Become a Morning Person: Going to bed and waking up earlier during the months of shorter daylight can help you avoid the winter funk. You’ll see more sunlight, which can increase Vitamin D consumption as well as mood.

Relax: Try to set aside time to relax each day. Try meditation, yoga or reading. Relaxation can decrease stress and create calm energy.

And don’t forget we live in paradise! In just a few months, we’ll be back to warmer temperatures and sunny beach days.