It is green.

It tastes unapologetic like white-fleshed grapefruit – refreshing and bitter all the same.

I know that when I take it in the early mornings, the ferrous fumarate will be slowly released within me for the day.  It will break down in the acid of my stomach and course through my iron deficient bloodstream.  It will fill one of the gaps that my body has produced, nutrient wise.  It will ensure me one more healthful day.

I generally take it with food, mashing the bolus in my mouth to a watery mass before placing the long green pill in the North-South position on top of it all.  I wait a few beats, relaxing my throat muscles, throwing my head back slightly, praying to my nervous system to cooperate, before attempting what I hope to be The Swallow that will take the whole lot down.  If I am lucky, everything will slide down the back of my throat, while I will it not to seize or spasm or clamp down on the slow moving pill before it gets far down enough not to come back up.

If I am unlucky, then the watery bolus would have left, abandoning its primary passenger to disperse its bitter green coating on my highly astute taste buds.  Then I will have to start over, tucking the rapidly disintegrating pill on one side of my mouth, while I mash a quick spoonful of ready food on the other, to try again.  I generally don’t begin to panic until I have tried this a few times and have managed to fail with each attempt.  By then copious amounts of water would be employed with perils of its own.  My last ditch effort would be to spit the pill out, wait a few minutes and try again, with a fresh pill.

I’ve only been so unlucky once.

I take the green pills because my lab reports tell me and my doctor that I am iron deficient.  As if my body doesn’t know what to do with the iron, so it throws it out of the window or down a coal chute instead of using it.  I am told to buy them at $29.00 per box of 100 capsules and to take them when my gums seem pale or when my finger tips look blue or when it is That Time of the Month.  Which can be confusing because That Time doesn’t always happen like it should when you are 5 or 6 anemic.  But my finger tips still turn blue and my gums still look pale and my face looks… sick even if I am not bleeding like most women do.  So I have blood tests regularly to check this since I am not always sure what the subtle signs my body is giving mean.

My Doctor tells me that I could be bleeding somewhere inside.  And I imagine my Celiac ridden intestines riddled with holes letting my iron rich blood escape wantonly.  My Doctor also tells me that I need to eat more things like liver and greens and to take those pills.  But this just makes me side-eye him and let loose my litany of vegetable packed foods that I cook and eat.  He tells me it is not enough and that I need to eat better, take these pills or schedule a transfusion of either blood or iron intravenously.

I promise to eat better and to take the pills.

I think my body a traitor.  After all, there is that SMA thing I have to deal with and now it can’t even hold on to iron, which is important for things like allowing my blood cells to carry oxygen properly and to fight off infections.  I try to buy more greens and eat healthier so my face doesn’t look so sick and I don’t have to sit out in the sun so much because I am cold.  But I take the pills because this sluggish feeling and this shortness of breath scare me.

And then one night I hear it.

Bapbapbapbapbapbap bapbap Bapbapbapbapbapbap bapbap

And I take a deep breath, which interrupts the small steady noise.

Exhaling slowly, I listen for it and it returns,

Bapbapbapbapbapbap bapbap Bapbapbapbapbapbap bapbap

I realize that the green pills I have been taking, have made my blood so efficient, that my heart is pumping hard enough to cause my bed to gently rattle my headboard, in rhythm.

I am shocked and a little bewildered. Was my heart working this hard because I was anemic and my body was starved for oxygen?  Now that my blood was enriched and better at doing its job, was my heart beating this way out of habit?  Should I be worried?

I listen intently for some minutes before falling back asleep, comforted.

In the months and years I’ve spent on then off, then on the green pills again, I’ve come to realize that that night was not a one off scenario.  Whenever my iron is low, my heart is silent.  But when I take my pills proper my heart sings.

In the nights when everything seems wrong, when there is nothing to meet my sadness or upset, my loneliness or my desperation, if I listen carefully, I can always, always hear my heart beat the rhythm of my living loud and yes, strong.