Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Half ton teen - Billy Robbins

I have been told before that Houston is one of the fattest cities in the world. Even with that knowledge I was not prepared for what I saw in this 3 part documentary that I have watched over the last few weeks. It followed 3 super obese people. Teenager Billy Robbins took centre stage in all three and a younger teen John Wayne appeared to a lesser extent. In part 3 were introduced to another young man. Sadly he died.

Billys story was upsetting and heartbreaking. He was 18 at the beginnning and 800 pounds. Barely mobile, his mother waited on him hand and foot while he played computer games and watched TV. Now I know I can on occassion lose quite a few hours if Im in final fantasy mode but I have never got to the extent where I can do it every day. I find that after so long you start seeing the game in flashes, even in your sleep. To me its disorientating. To Billy it seemed it was a way of life.

It became clear, half way in that the Mother Barbara was suffering from some tramatic event causing her to act the way she had. Her first son, sadly passed a year old. She had never really got over that. When Billy came along, it seems she wanted to ensure she would never lose another child. So she cared and cared and cared for him. She gave him everything he wanted. The mum needed to be needed. Billy as a result grew up as an 12 or 13 year old in an 18 year olds body. Billy didn't seem to have any friends bar his mum. Im not sure what his schooling was like. Effectively he was in a prison, a prison brought about by misplaced love from the mum. He also lived in the shadow of his dead brother.

The documentary followed the family going through a 3 stage plan to get Billys weight down and let him have a normal life. In the first couple of documentaries he whined and as soon as he got home returned to his own ways. Barbara it seemed despite letting him have the surgery, still wanted to keep him dependent. The first thing she did when he got home the first time was make him a hotdog. I screamed at the tv.

The hospital offered counselling and towards the end of documentary 2 she was I am happy to say starting to understand and tackle things. She started shouting at him to move, not waiting on him as much and probably the most pro-active she was training to be a bus driver. A job to give her another purpose. Fantastic. Also it forced Billy to fend for himself more as she wasn't there 24/7.

In documentary 3 she was alot better even coming up with ways to motivate her son to move, taking him to his grandparents farm. Billy tryed new activities and gradually they got his weight down to the amount needed for the last part of the treatment - the gastirc bypass. At the end of part 3, Billy himself had come on in leaps and bounds. He was no longer this whinning teen. He even narrated and showed himself to be level headed and with an understanding of his addiction and a williness to tackle it. I sincerely hope he carrys one with all the hard work and has his chance to do everything he dreams - go to college, have a family, all the normal mundane stuff we take for granted.

John Wayne sadly didn't fair as well. He also had gastric bypass sugrery. He lost so many pounds intially then his family got him a huge cake for his birthday. By his bed were jars of sweets. Temptation everywhere. It was unsurprising that the young man turned back to his old eating habits. At the end he showed an attitude to not care any more. Missing checkups with the hospital, saying things like the doctor can kiss my "£$£$$. I hope he wises up and I don't end up watching another documentary a year or so down the line where hes lying in the same bed as the poor kid that died.


  1. I followed the series, and I'm happy to know Billy is getting better.

  2. Yes I too have managed to see the next couple of the bodyshock series and it was lovely to see Billy at the end narrating and alot thinner. I have tryed to google Billy to see any further progress but there doesn't seem to be much out there. Hopefully he is living a happy and content life now