Staying Strong and Unapologetic Against Severe Allergies
Advocacy On the silver screen, TV’s best-known nanny has taken on her share challenging cases. But her biggest battle is one the parenting expert has faced herself, ever since she was a little girl.
Dealing with extreme allergies is nothing new for Jo Frost. The star of ABC’s long running reality show “Supernanny,” now known for her own series, “Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour,” learned early on how devastating the consequences could be. Allergic to nuts, shellfish and rye, she displayed the signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock as a toddler, experiencing facial swelling and severe difficulty in breathing.
“I was immediately rushed to the hospital and seen by the emergency team,” she says of the experience. “[They] gave me epinephrine and kept me overnight to monitor my blood pressure, as it was low.”
“‘You have to be relentless and diligent, and really unapologetic.’”
Learning to cope
As a child, Frost recalls not being able to breathe easily and feeling itchy, as if her blood were hot in her body. “I don’t remember a feeling of panic around me,” she explains. “Of course, I now know that was due to my parents' calm state of control over the situation. I’m sure inside they were bloody petrified.”
Growing up, avoiding temptation during Sunday tea was trying for Frost, who underwent blood work and a patch test as part of her diagnosis: “The results were very revealing, from common seasonal allergies to finding out I had a life-threatening allergy to horses.”
Becoming an advocate
Apart from being an author and global keynote speaker, Frost is the National Spokesperson for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT). For those dealing with allergies and asthma, she suggests always keeping medications on hand and being realistic—that there will be good days and better days.
“You have to be relentless and diligent, and really unapologetic,” Frost says. “People who surround you need to have the same knowledge. When you have the correct diagnosis and the correct medication and an action plan in hand, you don’t live as an allergy or asthma sufferer—you live as you.”