‘sick boy’

It was only at the beginning of september last year that I was trekking in the french and italian alps. After training for the few months leading up to the trip i was easily swimming a hundred lengths after a serious stint in the gym and feeling as fit as I ever have. I sensed myself easing slowly towards turning 40 and saw this as a real opportunity to keep my fitness levels up.


chamonix, sept 2010

After returning home I tried to keep up with a few more walks including the cobbler and tinto, a simple 711m high hill in south lanarkshire. it was while climbing tinto I noticed myself considerably out of breath considering this would be almost classified as a stroll. I just put this down to being an off day and never thought much about it again.

On the lead up to christmas I was extremely busy at work but really looking forward to a good relaxing break were I could ge some time to concentrate on some photography or other pursuits out with architecture including maybe some climbing. On the week run up to christmas I developed a heavy chest  infection bu this was soon dealt with by some antibiotics prescribed by my doc who due to my general fitness I hadn’t seen for a few years, this was about to change!

After a pleasant christmas eve putting  together my lovely lego guggenheim and eating a nice steak with a bottle of wine, I headed off to my parents for christmas dinner the next day. Everything was great and I was really looking forward to a traditional family christmas During my dinner I began to feel really queasy, I had drank maybe 2 glasses of wine so knew it couldnt be the drink. I put ona brave face until after the meal and sat down for after dinner entertainment, gift giving etc but i was beginning to really suffer. I decided to stay at my parents house and had a sleepless night with my stomach swelling in strange places.

I headed home on boxing day and was due to visit my brothers as he hadn’t been at the dinner on  christmas day. i had really been looking forward to heading over early and playing some PS3 with him and my nephew.  The pains I had just got worse and worse until I was violently sick. I had to cancel visiting and phoned NHS24 were I was referred to an emergency clinic and i got hold of my Mum to take me over. They prodded about at my stomach and suggested I may have gallbladder problems. Prescribed painkillers and an antibiotic and suggested I take some rest and visit my own GP when they re-open later that week.

Things settled a bit over the next few days and I managed a trip down to portencross to take some pics and lasted the day without too much problem and was beginning to think that I had seen the end of the stomach problems.



New year was approaching and I was steadily watching what I was eating and drinking and felt i was getting back to normal. I spent a quietish new year with some friends and had dinner again uneventfully this time at my parents on new years day. I had visited my own GP that who took blood tests and arranged an ultrasound scan to test for gallstones and kept me on the same painkillers.

Feeling better, I began to eat more going into newyear but was again hit by the same pains in early January. They would come and go, only releaved by eventually being sick. I was not processing anything i was eating properly and I was beginning to lose weight. People began to notice how bedraggled I look which you can begin to see in this photo taken in early January:

me Jan 2011

The ultrasound produced no results and I had more blood tests which showed up helicobacter pylori which is a bacteria that can cause ulcers and other stomach problems. I was immediately put on a tried and tested method of triple therapy to treat the bacteria which is pretty horrible put I persevered with it as anything was better than what i had been suffering. A week after completing the course i was even worse, the pains were continuous, I wasnt getting much sleep and i was being sick every other day. Meanwhile I was trying to do business as usual and recognise now that i really wasnt’ up to it but when you have your own business it is the way things are.

I went back to my doctors who changed my prescription again and booked me in for an endoscopy, after waiting 2 weeks for even a date for the endoscopy I couldn’t take anymore and went to the emergency GP, tey gave me something else to try that made me even worse and i was straight back the next day and referred directly into Glasgow Royal Infirmary on 26th Feb. I was immediately seen to, blood tests, xrays, ct scan etc. I had a tube inserted in my nose which immediately started to drain my stomach and i was made comfortable for the night.

A blockage in my bowel had been confirmed and it was decided to operate that day on the Sunday. I was in so much discomfort at the time nothing sank in and I just went along with everything. I hadn’t been a patient in a hospital since i was about 3 or 4 but still remember going into theatre quite vividly. I generally think I am pretty brave but I am not scared to admit I was absolutely terrified but there is nothing you can do bt put your faith in the hands of the doctors, surgeons etc that are all involved. I don’t know how many were present bt before I was put to sleep, there were a lot!

What i remember when I awoke is pretty hazy and vague. The surgeon explained that they had found the cause of the blockage which is a tumor. They were not abl to remove it at this time due to the size and scale of the operation and it was decied to take a sample to be tested and provide me with a bypass in order to get back to some level of fitness and start treatment for the tumor once I have recovered. I was asked if i wanted to tell my family and my girlfriend myself which I wanted to. They were all understandably shocked but they are very strong and it isn’t the fist time we have faced problems like this within the family.

I spent my first week of recovery in the High dependency unit in the hospital where I couldn’t have been better looked after. I don’t want to start naming individuals right now incase i miss anyone but the level of care and attention I received was unbelievable and led me to make significant and noticeable improvements every day. The main breakthrough for me was getting the tube removed from my nose, it was painful going in and restricted my breathing and swallowing as it is just not natural to feel pipes down they back of your throat. When Billy came in and asked if I wanted him to take it out I thought he was joking at first but the 2 seconds discomfort I felt as he expertly removed was worth the unimpeded intake of breadth afterwards. It maybe took the night to get used to it and get rid of the constant hiccups but it was a great step forward.

me 2nd Mar 2011

me 2nd Mar 2011


Day by day tubes, lines, drips have been removed and I am now in the recovery ward working towards getting out and getting back to full fitness. The power of recovery of the human body is remarkable. I could hardly speak a sentence this time last week nevermind sit and type and concentrate. I still have to get my appetite back but it is coming back slowly. My body has taken a battering over the past two months and is struggling to find balance again but I feel it coming.

I am beginning to think about the next stage of my recovery, the chemotherapy I will have to go through. I have yet to have a consultation with my oncologist and a lot will come from that. What I do know is that technology and science are moving fast, techniques have improved amazingly, there is a huge amount of support, I am relatively young and fit but I sill have a fight on my hands.

Sitting in my bed this morning, I feel as good as i have in months and looking forward to getting out soon which seems to be likely in the next day or two.

me 9th Mar 2011

me 9th Mar 2011

I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has looked after me here at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary including all the doctors, surgeons, support staff and nurses. A special mention must go to the staff in High Dependancy including elaine, marie, rachel and billy who looked after me 24hrs night and day when I was at my most needy.


A big thank you to my friends, family, girlfriend and colleagues who have visited or sent their well wishes to me, it really means the world to me the support I have had at this difficult time.


25 Responses to “‘sick boy’”

  1. 1 Melanie Best
    March 9, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Life is precious…I hope you soon pick up your strength – after all…I wouldn’t have come across the beautiful Sigur Ros’s Hvarf-heim without your Twitter recommendation!!

  2. March 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

    hey jon-marc – a traumatic story indeed. you get well soon and look forward to doing some stuff with you this year. ines says hello too.


  3. 5 Frankie Shakir
    March 10, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Hi John, Jo sent me this, sorry to hear about you, you must be the winner thro this so stay strong.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Your are already showing your grit & determination to get back to full health. I have great faith in you & believe from the bottom of heart that your positive mental attitude & support is already aiding your recovery. Stay strong, we are all routing for you. Remarkable that you have come so far in such a short time….going up in my estimation every day big cuz. Love Pamela & gang. xxxxx

  5. 9 Christine Thomson
    March 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Jon,

    Was gutted to hear your sad news but it does explain a lot. I’m delighted you’re on the mend. It must have been pretty hard going there. Please know that each and every one of us are thinking of you and are here should you need anything at all.

    Keep your chin up 🙂

    Christine x

  6. 10 sharon kerr
    March 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Jon-Marc hope you are feeling a lot better soon.

  7. March 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Hi Jon-Marc so sorry to hear this news.
    Our thoughts are all with you. Gerry Mcgaughy comes in everyday to check his email so I’ll leave this open for him to see.
    You stay strong xx

  8. 13 Kenneth McCartney
    March 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Jon, I wish you strength in your ongoing treatment, and a speedy recovery back to good health. We are all thinking about you.

  9. 15 Kevin Sergeant
    March 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Jon,

    I’m really sorry to hear about your illness. My mum has had treatment for a similar thing and went through nine chemo sessions. They left her feeling a bit wiped out and her touch was affected in her hands (over sensitivity to hot and cold). That was short term (around six months probably)after which she felt stronger and less tired.

    Your platform of fitness and your positive attitude will be a big help and I wish you all the best. You’re a great guy and I respect your architectural work and your photography skills.

    Take care and get well soon.



  10. 17 Jim & Michele
    March 11, 2011 at 2:55 am

    Johnny you hang in there, your actually looking better than the first time I met you! Life is very unpredictable, but the one thing that real counts is the way we deal with it that makes the difference. Take care and we wish you the best!

  11. 18 scarpadog
    March 11, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Thanks, I am getting there, speak soon

  12. March 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm


    We have no doubt in our minds that all will turn out alright for you. Stay strong, positive and call / email should you need to discuss anything at all – As Patrick indicated today, having been through this, comfort can be drawn from the knowledge that after a short period you will be back to full fitness.

    Take care.

    Patrick / Svein
    (Space Projects Ltd)

  13. 20 John Scally
    March 12, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Hi Jon Marc,

    Got back to Jersey safe and sound. I will send you the website for the private hospital I mentioned. The more I am involved in this business the more I realise that the skill is in bringing style and art to people through an architecture that works at both at the artistic and the practical level. I suppose it is a bit like Westwood’s designs. Interesting but would you really wear it?

    I will phone your mum in the morning to find out how you are because you would just flannel me!

    Keep the faith!


  14. 21 Ronan
    March 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Love n respect brother, fight hard…

    Ronan & Lucy

  15. 22 Gareth
    March 14, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Hey Jonny

    Was just chatting Shug in the car on Friday and asked how you were and he filled me in and sent your blog it’s unbelievable. Glad to hear you got out on Saturday and I really hope your strength returns swiftly for the next round. Keep the faith and the fight, the human body and mind are bloody incredible.

    Best wishes and love


  16. March 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I don’t know how I missed this. Good to hear from you and that you are doing well. Keep smiling 🙂

  17. 25 Mary Theresa
    March 21, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Hi Jon-Marc

    It’s Mary Theresa here, Uncle Gerry’s youngest. Your Dad told my big sis Bernadette about your blog, so I thought I would check it out.

    I’m living in London now, and married an English man for my sins!! Still keep an eye on ‘The Hoops’ while I’m down here, although my Celtic strip is hiding in the wardrobe after yesterday.

    Your right about the advances in medical research etc it is phenomenal. Very hopeful for your future. I’m looking forward to reading of your progress. It sounds as though you are getting the best treatment from the best place and the best people.

    Like you last year, as my 40 approaches (July 31), I decided to get some fitness into my life, and taken up running, just slow progess run/walk. I can run for a whole 3 mins now and do 5k in 40 mins. I’m doing the Race for Life at Crystal Palace Park in June. So really have to get out there.

    I’m looking forward to reading of your recovery and fight back!!

    All the Best. Mary Theresa x

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