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She was emotionally drained (that is her excuse for crying so easily).

The doctor flexed her knees as he did the rotation.

“Well,” he said to her and her mom, “Everything is functioning correctly.”

But her knees still ached. The doctor suggested that she take some anti-inflammatories to knock down the pain so she could heal. It was a good idea, though she didn’t find out till later that it didn’t work for her. Still, it was the best advice he could give.

“You can either get a cortisone shot, or you can take pills.”

A shot would be quick and over-with, pills would take time (and she never could remember to take medication or vitamins).

She lay back and turned her face away so she wouldn’t see the needle. She felt the needle pierce her—and it hurt, but it was a hurt that she hoped would heal, and she trusted this doctor—and for good reason.

She was a dancer; she had good control over her muscles. She kept her knee-muscles relaxed, though the pain was intensifying. The fluid filled the space beneath the kneecap until she was sure it would explode. She let her body shake a bit with the pain, but she kept her knee relaxed.

The second shot was harder, because she knew how much it would hurt. This time, she had to work very, very hard to keep her muscles relaxed. The rest of her body shook, and tears crept to the corners of her eyes.

At last, both shots were done.

Her mom gave her a hug.

The girl wiped the tears away and smiled.

“Tough girl,” said the doctor.