Facial Swelling - no diagnosis after 2 years
The illness that I am about to write about has occurred over the last two years and is still ongoing. Two years ago this month I noticed the beginning of facial swelling. It started on both eyelids and then migrated to both cheeks and then to my Parotid glands. Within two months my face was noticeably puffy and swollen. To this day, the facial swelling is still there and NO other parts of my body have been affected.
Initial trips to my primary care physician, Emergency Room visits, two ENT’s and an allergist yielded zero results and no opinions of what was possibly wrong. Following that I made the decision to go to a holistic doctor. He ran multiple blood tests, allergy tests(high yeast count which prompted him to put me on the Candida diet; this did nothing), thyroid tests (low Normal results, he suggested Synthroid but recommended the diet initially). Acknowledging that there may be something bigger than he could handle he recommended me to a special diagnostic clinic at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.
The unit at Emory consisted of a number of specialists who saw patients with undiagnosed conditions. The disciplines they represented included; ENT, Hematologist, Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist, Immunologist. Over the course of three months I had individual appointments with each group. The bloodwork that each doctor ordered came back with no indication of any illness outside of a low white blood count and low platelet count. As part of this process I also had chest x-rays, biopsy of sub-mandibular gland, head and neck CT scan, Bone marrow biopsy which also came back normal. I left Emory because they told me that they couldn’t identify what was wrong with me and frankly didn’t have any defined next steps.
I then decided to go to an infectious disease doctor and all of the tests that were run came back negative; Lymes disease, infections etc… The doctor could clearly see my facial swelling and she recommended that I go back to a rheumatologist, which I did.
The Rheumy, who I have been going to for the last 5 months, reviewed all of my past history of blood test results and previous doctor’s notes. He diagnosed me with what he termed an immune deficiency which he felt was manifesting as an auto-immune disease, even though all my blood work never revealed any markers for any known auto-immune diseases and I don’t exhibit any symptoms from the neck down. He prescribed a course of Prednisone over a 6-week period/20mg/10mg/5mg (facial swelling was extremely responsive and face looked normal BUT swelling returned within three days of going off the steroids). He then prescribed plaquenol with a low dose of prednisone(5mg) which I have been on for 90 days now and the swelling has not gone away. My Rheumy has mentioned going on either, Azathioprine, Methatrexate or Sulfasalazine to see what that would do but I have opted not to because I feel that I need a valid diagnosis prior to taking any drug like that.
I am not sure if this is truly a rheumatological or an endocrine issue. I have exhibited zero markers for a rheumatological disease and only a low normal for thyroid disease. I am writing to see if anyone out there has experienced a similar situation, I am at a total loss as to where to go next. Any shared thoughts and ideas are welcome.