Billy wants to be a fireman when he grows up. For most little boys, this would be a reasonable dream, but for Billy, it may be a little out of his range.
See, Billy was born blind, and there aren’t many blind firemen, if there are any at all. In addition to his blindness, he is deaf in both ears, which makes it even harder.
What really makes it outside of the realm of possibility though, is the fact that Billy is a quadriplegic: he cannot move any muscle below his neck. He is confined to a wheelchair, which he controls with a mouth-joystick.
These are not the complete catalog of Billy’s woes, though. Not by far. In addition to this, he is also autistic, and hasn’t said a word since the age of three. He has a rare skin disease which makes him itch like crazy all over, but of course he can’t scratch because he can’t move his arms. He is a pitiful sight, but this is only the beginning.
Billy is allergic to almost every kind of food. The only things he can eat without having a life-threatening reaction are garbanzo beans, mushrooms, pineapple, and cow liver, and so his meals consist of these ingredients mixed in a blender. Although his caretakers have brushed his teeth daily, Billy’s teeth are rotting out, and they can’t be replaced because he is allergic to the plastics used in false teeth.
Billy does have one thing that you and I don’t have, but unfortunately, that is an extra chromosome. Billy has Down’s syndrome. Although Billy does not have a high-fat diet, he has a genetic predisposition for obesity, and consequently, he weighs over 350 pounds. This is fairly obese, for even a normal person, but the fact that Billy is a midget makes it even more astoundingly big. Worse still, Billy has terrible asthma, making every breath a nearly impossible chore.
Everyone is careful not to cut or bruise Billy, because as a hemophiliac, his blood doesn’t clot easily. This makes giving his daily insulin shots a little dangerous, because as you would probably expect, Billy is a diabetic. Billy is also anemic, which is a treatable disorder, if Billy were able to tell people about his lethargy.
For most people, terrible physical conditions are somewhat muted because over time they get used to them. Billy is denied even that small comfort. Billy has early Alzheimer’s, and every few minutes he suddenly realizes his woes anew. If Billy could see, he would also have to deal with his dyslexia. If he could speak, people wouldn’t want to hear him, because Billy also has Turrets, and would be unable to stop himself from constantly swearing.
Billy is also an albino, and has no hair on his body. Although these abnormalities don’t weigh heavily on his mind, they do make him look even stranger than he would otherwise.
However, despite his many many woes, Billy is actually quite happy. Yes, you read that right, he’s happy. And if Billy can be happy with all his problems, you don’t have any excuse to feel bad about ANYTHING!