More Than Meets the Eye // A swollen eyelid that turned out to be a lot more than an allergy

As told to Chany Paskes

Every time she woke up with the swelling, I felt a niggling unease. Something told me we were on the wrong track. I just didn’t know how to get on the right one.

Two years ago, my daughter Devorie, who was six at the time, woke up with a swollen eyelid. Nothing to panic about. We chalked it up to an insect bite and were relieved when the swelling went down completely by midafternoon.

The next day the swelling was back, only to disappear once again in the early afternoon. We thought it intriguing but waited to see what the next day would bring.

Over the next few days, an inconsistent pattern emerged. Some days her eyelid was swollen; other days it wasn’t. And sometimes the other eyelid was swollen as well, although not as much.

The weird part was that the symptoms would always be present in the morning, and by the afternoon we’d be left wondering if it was a figment of our collective imaginations.

We waited for the swelling episodes to pass, but they didn’t. I reached out to my GP and made an appointment. I couldn’t consult with our pediatrician because he worked at a hospital during the morning hours and was only available to see patients in the afternoon, which was when Devorie’s eyelids would magically return to their regular size.

The verdict was handed down immediately. Allergies. The doctor prescribed an anti-allergen medication and sent us on our way.

The meds brought no relief.

The swelling kept coming and going, strong in the morning and nonexistent by the afternoon.

Over the course of the next few months, we visited the GP on four different occasions. Each time, he reaffirmed that it was an allergy and prescribed different anti-allergy medications.

I switched laundry detergent. I took her off dairy. We experimented with different triggers to see if there was any particular allergen that prompted the swelling.
Nothing was conclusive. There was no rhyme or reason or cause and effect.
The fifth time I visited the GP, I was more assertive and vocal in my frustration that something more must be going on than a mere allergic reaction. None of the prescribed courses of treatment were having even the slightest effect.

To quell my concerns, he referred me to a big allergy specialist. I reached out immediately, only to be told that the next available appointment was four months away. I took it.

In the interim, the symptoms worsened. The swelling no longer disappeared by the afternoon. It lingered until the evenings, and many times it was still there when she settled in for the night. On the really bad days, Devorie had trouble opening her eyes.

I waited impatiently for the appointment, my nervousness mounting with every passing day.


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