KILE Beaumont was getting on with life yesterday, but only just.
The courageous 27-year-old locksmith suffered extreme injuries in a recent Gympie home invasion and doctors say he may take years to recover - if he ever does.
The Gympie apprentice locksmith's life changed on September 21, when an armed man burst into a Struan Cres house and bashed him about the head with a baseball bat, causing skull fractures and brain injuries.
THE injuries mean Mr Beaumont still has balance problems, his hearing is affected and his eyesight is not what it should be.
The hand he raised to protect himself is also badly injured, a big problem for a locksmith.
"Locksmiths need 11 fingers a lot of the time, so I'm hoping the hand recovers," Mr Beaumont said yesterday.
"I've got no co-ordination and I can't operate machinery.
"I do what I can when I can but just being here in the shop and having things around me returning to normal is a big help to healing," he said.
"It's going to be something that takes a long time.
"They don't expect me to have fully recovered until December and hopefully the body will work as it should by then.
"My vision's not great just yet and I can't hear properly in one ear anymore.
"The skull fracture is across the part of the brain which controls motor skills and balance.
"The doctors are hoping the hearing problems are just a clot which will eventually dissolve.
"Only time will tell," Mr Beaumont said.
"I'm alive. That's what's important. I think I must be built pretty tough - Tonka tough.
"If you let it get you down, that's it.
"I'm hoping to be able to finish my trade, but I've had to put off my TAFE training until next year.
"I hope by then I'll be able to travel to Brisbane for TAFE. You can't study locksmithing in Gympie, so I have to be able to travel.
"I'm still not great.
"What happened just isn't right.
"There's not much I could have done, but you always think later that you should have done more.
"And you always worry that it might happen again.
"You don't think something like this could happen, but when it does, it changes everything. You feel as though it might happen again, because it has happened already.
"You don't want to be paranoid, but it's hard not to be affected.
"Being back in the shop is great, although I have to be supervised all the time.
"Just wearing the uniform and being back here is a great comfort.
"Your body won't heal as fast without routine.
"It beats the hell out of being in hospital, with doctors fussing about. I'm not designed for that sort of stuff.
"The customers have been great. They're not loading us up with stress. They've been really good and they're keeping the tempo nice and low and giving us a chance."
Another important factor has been the way locksmiths work together, with formal associations or guilds that help them share knowledge and support in emergencies.
"Guild members have been fantastic. The guilds have an attitude that if you've got a problem, call us,'' Mr Beaumont said.
"You don't want to be stumbling around in the dark and you don't want to hoard knowledge that someone else needs.
"I'm looking forward to driving again, but I'm not ready for that yet."
His fellow victim, Rosemarie Fuerties, remains in hospital, fighting to recover from similar head injuries and multiple stab wounds to the chest.
The James Nash State High School cleaner is still struggling with her injuries, Mr Beaumont said.
"It'll be at least a week before she's out of hospital and longer still before she can return to work."