Seren's story is told by her mum, Abi. “Take me back to hospital, I can’t do it anymore mummy”. Seren screamed, in pain. In hospital, a doctor checked Seren's enzyme levels in her blood, for the first time ever.
Tell us about your family
“I’m Abi, mother to Seren (8) and Lily (10), and married to John. Our family runs two big riding schools, one in Manchester and a newer one in Cheshire where we moved a couple of years ago. Seren is horse-mad, she’s even started competing in show jumping. Seren is such a happy child, and is really clever. She plays a lot with Lily, in fact they’re running around in the garden as I speak!”
Did Seren have digestive symptoms when she was younger?
“Seren never slept through the night until she was four. She always suffered with bad reflux, and was eventually referred to gastroenterology. Seren had so many investigation, with no answers, other than an intolerance to dairy and soya.
Her poo has always been terrible. As she got older, she’d finish a meal and go straight to the toilet. We’d find it was greasy and would stick to the toilet bowl, as though it was covered in petrol. They were green for a while, and then yellow. We could tell Seren was surviving and happy, but she was uncomfortable for many years without an answer.
A couple of times a year, we’d end up in A&E with Seren, where she’d spend a few days on pain relief and fluids. She has spent Christmas in hospital, and her 5th birthday too. We were often told, “Seren is just a child with an overactive bowel”.”
When did your family first hear the word ‘pancreatitis’?
“Seren had a big attack of pain in April 2023, completely went off her food and couldn’t sleep. She was being violently sick. We went into a different hospital this time, as we’d moved, and they gave her some constipation relief and sent her home. Later that evening, John rang me in a panic, and I could hear her screaming in pain in the background. “Take me back to hospital, I can’t do it anymore mummy”. I came home and rang the ward, and the consultant who answered could hear her screaming in the background. Even though there was a strike at the time, they told us to bring her in as soon as we could.
A junior doctor checked Seren’s enzyme levels in her blood, for the first time ever. She was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, and ended up staying in hospital for nine days. Seren was exhausted, and pleased to be able to sleep now that she was given proper pain relief. They sent off for genetic tests to be done, and we’re still awaiting some of the results.
This was such a frightening time, and it was hard for us to keep juggling the horses, my teaching and the rest of family life. Lily is quite an anxious child, and she’d worry so, so much about Seren. But oddly, because we’d been in hospital so many times with no answers before, there was an odd sense of relief to have an answer finally. All of the information I found on pancreatitis was from Guts UK’s website. I felt so much better when I found it. The doctors are so busy and never had time for me, or whenever I have an appointment, Seren would be looking and doing well, they’ve not often seen her at her worst.”
How are you doing now?
“Seren is very resilient. She’s lived with pain most of her life, so it’s almost her normal. We’re still waiting on answers from Seren’s tests, which we hope will give us more answers as a family. It’s hard having to wait so long between appointments, and we often feel like we’re just waiting for her to have another attack. We’re happy to have a diet that works for Seren now, and it’s so important to us that she can still be a normal kid.
When Seren was first diagnosed, we felt very much on our own. It was so helpful to find Guts UK’s information at a time we needed it, it stopped us from sitting in hospital, panicking. We had some factual information to focus on. Hopefully there’ll come a day where children and adults with pancreatitis are diagnosed earlier.“
There is no effective treatment for pancreatitis. There is no cure.
Guts UK is dedicated to finding an effective treatment, a cure for this misunderstood and underfunded condition. We are building a community affected by pancreatitis, comforted in knowing they’re not alone.