Three-year-old Brooklyn loves to get her hands dirty. When it comes to playtime this spunky and vivacious toddler shies away from tiaras and princess garb and heads straight for her overalls.
“Brooklyn is adventurous, curious, and loves dirt, mud and paint,” said Kristen, Brooklyn’s Mom. “We have an art room, and she has a blast with paint in there.”
Though the tiny finger painter and mud-pie maker loves all-things mucky, her passion for excavation and exploration was recently put on hold.
Soon after Brooklyn’s third birthday, sudden bouts of intense stomach pain and vomiting became frequent.
“She vomited around 9 a.m., then again at noon, and from then she threw up about every 20 minutes,” recalls Mom, a nurse at her local hospital.
Brooklyn was quickly seen by her pediatrician who believed the toddler had a viral illness. He prescribed anti-nausea/vomit medication and recommended Pedialyte to prevent dehydration.
The hope was the pain and vomiting would pass. Unfortunately, it didn’t. In fact, it worsened.
“The next few days involved episodes of awful vomiting and contorting discomfort to the point she would just pass out,” says Kristen.
Brooklyn needed specialized emergency attention.
Acute pancreatitis care
Brooklyn’s parents took her to Boston Children’s emergency room. Upon arrival, doctors started an intravenous line, or IV, for hydration, ordered blood work and conducted an ultrasound and X-ray of her bowels. Test results showed Brooklyn had acute pancreatitis — a condition where gallstones block the flow of fluid where bile and pancreatic fluid enter the small intestine.
“This is one of the most common causes of acute pancreatitis in adult patients in this country but rather rare in young children,” says Dr. Victor Fox, co-director of the Boston Children’s Pancreatic Disorders Program.
In order to effectively treat Brooklyn’s condition and prevent future attacks of pancreatitis, Dr. Fox scheduled an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP — a procedure where the stones blocking the flow of fluid are removed. “The ERCP was done to prevent infection, reduce inflammation and injury to the liver and reduce pain,” Fox says.
From intervention to recovery
Once the procedure was complete, Brooklyn quietly rested in recovery. Kristen sat by her daughter’s bedside and wept. She says she knew at that point, all would be OK.
“Brooklyn drifted off while we played ”Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. I totally lost it and cried after she was asleep. I needed to let it out,” Mom recalls. “Brooklyn’s doctors did a wonderful job and I knew she would be great after that.”
Soon after the procedure, Brooklyn’s inquisitive and vivacious personality began to re-emerge. With a gentle spring in her step, Brooklyn made a trip to the playroom down the hall, discovered new and exciting bedside gadgets and made new friends.
Within a few days, Brooklyn returned home, was eating solid foods and back to doing what she does best — finger painting and mud-pie making. Mom says, it is “like a dream” to see her little girl’s spunky personality shine again.
During a recent follow-up appointment with Dr. Fox, Brooklyn and her parents shared updates, giggles and a whole lot of silliness — just a few of the many comforting reasons Brooklyn and her family visit Boston Children’s.
“Dr. Fox has been wonderful. He is the kind of doctor that lets a three-year-old take his blood pressure during the office visit,” Mom says. “I also love how so much is done with the understanding that this is a child’s journey.”
Learn more about the Boston Children’s Pancreatic Disorders Program.