The following post I wrote on my Danish website – it’s a narrative journey how you cope and exploring with headaches when you’re suffering from PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) or long term concussion – going on my second year in 1,5 month.

The following day my post got published in Costa Posten; an online newspaper for the Scandinavian people in Southern Spain.


My head hurts. My body and joints hurts. My ears are ringing. My forehead’s warm. My body is stressed, and the head buzzing and tingling. Trying to sleep a bit more, but my body hurts too much.

Dieter makes fried eggs and coffee. I am still miserable.
Considering sleeping. To rest. Forget about it all and stay in bed, for what do I have to get up for? A life with ringing ears, a nervous system I do not know how to handle. The world is dancing, I’m not invited. But I insist on participating.
My head hurts, my eyes flickers. Constantly I got an eye out for what I may use to throw up in- just in case.

A Sunday stroll

Ragalna is with its 3,000 inhabitants, not much bigger than a village. What is the limit for a village, what’s the difference between city and village? No idea. But Ragalna acts as the size of a village.
After a few minutes we are at the town square, or Piazza.
Two modern cafes, a fading yellow church, a small park with a few flowers and benches, and an even smaller grocery store is what the town square offers.

Ragalna © | Kirsten K. Kester

The cafes are the only open. It’s Sunday. The church should be open and everything else closed. Perhaps it’s modern times. I consult a few young people sitting on the fancy cafe. The neon scripture says they serve coffee.
Yes, the supermarket is closed, it’s Sunday.
Dieter are now on the other side of the square and continues along a road going north. I follow.

The wind is cool brushing my cheeks. That’s because we’re up in almost 900 meters above sea level. The warm spring weather we are experiencing at the coast, is slow in coming to the mountains.

church decorations © | Kirsten K. KesterI’m outside. It does not happen every day. Unfortunately. Concussion means that my sleep is sparse and the pain is plenty.

Once I’m out, I occasionally forget my illness. At least for a while. The impressions, the sounds, the wind kissing my face, and my curiosity makes the worries and the pain out of focus. Concussion and all its appendages, is quietly placed out of sight. It should stay there.
Unfortunately, it’s short, and only in a certain amount of time. Then it knocks on the door, like a reigning power. It wants to stay high in rank, remind me that it’s a part of me. It is definitively not welcome, but I know that it will burst in with a sudden and unbearable power, if I do not offer it inside.

Beautiful details by gate in Ragalna © | Kirsten K. KesterThe houses are very different at first glance. However if you look closely, they are nevertheless similar in expression. Like most southern European or Italian houses, they got a certain romantic touch. Very lovely and neat, with swirls and twisting. Painted in delicate pastel colors. Like in different powder colors, which I find a bit comical, but it can be it no other way. Saturate the long summer, with the strong light, the Italians’ houses almost hermetically sealed, with thick blinds, shutters, or even bricks blocking the windows.

The gardens are lush, with dense vegetation and olive trees are found everywhere. In these heights cypress are also quite common. Few have mini plantations with wine or fruit trees.
The sea view that we should be able to discern to the east, are unfortunately disappearing in the mist. But we are with no doubt up in the mountains. The air tells.

I’d prefer to go a little haphazardly. Like getting a little lost, and go exploring on adventures. Dieter on the other hand prefers to keep an eye on the GPS. Which turns out to be a good idea as time passes by quickly. The light disappear, and we still have a few hills, and some turns before we approach something recognizable.

Often we are barked at when we pass, what could look like abandoned house. We seldom see the dogs’ owners. The few we encounter, nods with a smile. A few nods comes with a Buonasera, and a woman with laundry on the balcony likes to know where we are going, and quite a few other things that I do not understand. She nods and points affirmative. If we are going towards the Piazza we are on the right track. I smile and thank her. Molte grazie.

* Etna sticks her snout up behind the hills and trees. With snow on top, she looks cold and frost bitten despite her capacity as a volcano with an inner glow.

Pink flowers © | Kirsten K. Kester


Another lovely afternoon

First a cup of great Italian coffee in our café. Then a longer walk in the opposite direction of what we last went. I easily get lost in the beautiful details. In the Italian’s gardens and houses. So much that I sometimes find myself in the middle of the road. The cars honking almost regardless, so I have plenty of time to get off the road. I find myself thinking; are they not driving incredibly fast, in such a small town? Is that how you think when you get older? I do not recall, I’ve had thoughts like that before. On this walk, there are a lot more cars than on our previous walk.
On a scale of 1 to 10 I ask Dieter; how irritated do you get because of my many stops and urge to study things, and almost certainly also have to take a photo? Dieter pounders and answer that it usually starts at 1 and approaching 10 when we are at home. My curiosity is like my headache, nausea, dizziness, and everything else concussion causes, incredibly difficult to rein.

The castle-like houses, reminiscent of something from before my great great great grandfather lived. Palettes in nature with different colors, a light in a special unknown smoke color sneaks slowly up from the valleys, set aside in a world of fantasy and magic flowers. How can we not stop, is my thought.

However, it is hard. It is hard for my head, to comprehend the experience and my thoughts that gallops like herds of horses with words, images and colors swirling around in a tornado. I take photos so I can remember and write words that support.

When the twilight pronounce its coming, we turn back.
There is still plenty to see, even if we go back the same way. When I’m engulfed in the details, I don’t always notice everything on both sides of the road.

For example. I first notice on the way home, there is a rather large and beautiful museum close to the road.
There are some workmen in there, and my curiosity drives me towards them.
What I immediately understand from the Sicilian Italian accent is that it is a wine museum, but not to open until April.
That we can not do much about, but we got to greet a couple of good men, and enjoyed the beautiful buildings up close.

Small experiences escalate.

/? Kirsten

* Etna is on the Unesco World Heritage list.



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