Zionsville family finds hope in food allergy journey
By Renee Larr
According to a 2013 study by the Center for Disease Control, food allergies in children increased by 50 percent from 1997 to 2011 with no clear explanation. Zionsville parents, Andrew and Lauren Kossack, have not one but two children with severe food allergies and have learned first-hand how allergies affect children.
Their firstborn, Christian, was diagnosed at a year and a half old. Each time Christian would eat solid foods he would gag and throw up. At the suggestion of Andrew’s sister, a developmental therapist, the couple made arrangements for their son to be evaluated. An occupational therapist was hired to work with Christian.
After months of treatment Lauren tried to feed Christian with a new texture – scrambled eggs. The reaction was immediate – Christian broke out in hives anywhere he had touched the egg. Six weeks later the family met with an allergist who conducted a skin test, a blood test and listened to the family’s story. The doctor gave Lauren an epipen because the severity of egg allergies can vary.
Lauren was also concerned about the possibility of their 8-week-old son, Atticus, developing food allergies.
“I’ll never forget holding him and asking the doctor what the chances were that Atticus would have it. He said statistics say typically only one child in a family has food allergies and if, for some reason, another child in the family has food allergies they tend be allergic to fewer things and their reactions tend to be less severe. Well, we’re totally the opposite,” said Lauren.
Atticus was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, soy, peanuts and tree nuts. He outgrew the soy allergy but then developed allergies to eggs and sesame.
Introducing new foods to their sons can be a scary experience. Always looking for new foods for her children, Lauren once tried to feed Atticus hummus. Within bites he began reacting to the food. Lauren quickly administered a dose of Benadryl but noticed no change in Atticus’ condition. She made the call every parent dreads to 9-1-1.
“He seemed stable and was breathing fine. I was looking for a blue face but none of that was happening. The paramedics arrived and took one look at him and agreed … he is obviously uncomfortable but appears to be stable. Little did we know that his body turning bright red was an indicator that his blood pressure was dropping really quickly which is the definition of anaphylactic shock,” Lauren said. “A nurse [ran]in with an epipen. Within seconds he went from being lifeless and limp to trembling from the epinephrine but he was alert. Within 20 minutes he was laughing.”
That scary trip to the ER ignited Lauren’s passion to create a blog titled The Epi Family in hopes of helping other families with newly diagnosed children. She shares their story, how they have learned to cope and recipes that she has created or modified for their lifestyle.
“I felt like [the blog]was a great ministry for me to be that person I never had for other moms,” Lauren said. “I’m just trying to be the light in the food allergy community.”
The Kossack family has learned to see the light in their own less-than-ideal situation.
“I think this gives us more of an appreciation for life itself,” said Andrew Kossack, father of the kids. “We have had reactions where we could have lost them if they didn’t have the right medications.”
For more information on the Epi Family visit epifamily.com.
Meet Andrew Kossack, The Epi Family father
- Grew up in Lawrence Township
- Attended church in Zionsville growing up
- Graduated from Lawrence North High School in 1999
- Graduated from Butler University in 2003
- Graduated from IU Law School in 2007
He was recently appointed as Commissioner of The Indiana Department of Revenue and Current asked: What do you hope to accomplish in your time as Commissioner?
A: “Governor Pence expects us to continue to improve the way we serve Hoosier taxpayers through modernization of our systems and processes. We are currently implementing the tax simplification legislation – Senate Enrolled Act 441 – that the governor made part of his legislative agenda this year and signed into law in May,” stated Andrew. “That bill streamlines the tax code, eliminates a number of outdated and unnecessary credits and deductions, and clarifies laws that have created confusion for taxpayers. Most of the reforms in SEA 441 came from proposals first explored during the Governor’s Tax Simplification and Competitiveness Conference, which was held in June of 2014 and featured a number of state and national tax and economics experts from the public and private sectors.”