Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

Ahja Fox


My doctor tells me that living with someone who suffers from IIH is like dealing with someone who has cancer. I smirk. Send his hands flying to the keyboard with my low giggle as my eyes push forward out of my head, demanding me to think bad things. 

I want to bitch slap him, picturing that feisty blonde Latina from some telenovela. All rage within five pretty fingers. But then, maybe I want to hug him. Let his doctor hands untie the small knots in my hospital gown as I whisper in his neck that he is required to fix me. Whatever it takes.

I want him to be a modern shaman. Not some man who got irreparably wasted on pristine, sterilized medical terms. Cold instruments echo white noise into my disproportionate, dysfunctional brain. I bow my head, palms together, praying to no one and no God, constricting my heart muscles from dry-heaving and splaying blood all over my chest cavity and along the white hospital floors.

Backtrack to the splitting of my brain. The alien language of pain showed up at eleven, before the hit and run and three plus concussions. A witch decorated in metal tools loved hissing in my face depression and anxiety. Gray matter that became unhinged, crawling apart so that one day, just one god-awful day I would snap.

So today, when the doctor sits in his royal chair, legs crossed, clipboard in hand telling me to explain the “head pain”, I consider bringing in a drill. I want to puncture the base of his skull with an inch-deep hole then punch him from all angles while someone holds a small rubber band to his right temple.

I wish this pain on anyone and everyone, because why me? And I can’t drop that the condition’s second name, Pseudotumor Cerebri, means fake brain tumor.

I don’t use that name. It is a nasty sonofabitch that head rapes me every single day. It lingers and obsesses. Its aftertaste, nails embedded into my teeth. Everything outside my body is fake. Man-made. Plastic. I asphyxiate in paper sheets long after I shower, dress, and go about my day. I filter hellos and goodbyes because I am penny-pinching in spoons. The ones I have nosedive into the sink from all the pills, injections, doctor’s visits, and endless draining of humans. It is the screeching slaughter of dishes. Some alternative rock band that won’t fucking leave the top floor of my complex.

I want it to stop. All of it. I want the excess spinal fluid to ooze out of every orifice. Whatever it takes, right?

My doctor asks if I ever consider hurting myself…




Ahja Fox is a poet obsessed with bodies/ body parts (specifically the throat). She can be found around Denver reading at various events and open mics or co-hosting at Art of Storytelling. She publishes in online and print journals and is a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter at aefoxx.