Jonah: Emerging from the depths

When Jonah’s family from Europe made his reservation with us, we had no idea how he sustained the injuries that resulted in his various surgeries. It was a simple request for post-surgical care. On the day we collected him from hospital, his family asked if we could make a few stops to fetch clothing, laptops and his ID. This is not an unusual request. Many people we look after have no family in SA and I easily arranged for our driver and two carers to assist Jonah. What they found at home though, was all nine levels of Danté’s inferno. You see, Jonah was in a home invasion. His house was not yet cleaned up and he walked back, literally to the scene of the crime, and the start of his PTSD.

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After the medical teams had sewed him up, pushed him into MRI tunnels repeatedly, x-rayed, medicated and monitored him, as well as pinned his bones and made sure no brain damage was sustained, he was fit to leave after a few weeks. But where could he go? He could not go home as the police are still investigating and, let’s face it, home is not quite home after an invasion. He did not want to be a burden on a friend (although he has many) and although his body was better, his mind, particularly his peace of mind, was understandably, not what it should be.

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Over the course of Jonah’s first week with us, it was like seeing the unfolding of a metamorphosis of a butterfly. He was quiet, stressed, dishevelled and in a lot of pain at the beginning. As he defrosted, we had long conversations about the traumatic event, his shock at being awoken by attackers, and the even more traumatic shock of walking back into his house and seeing his blood on the walls and his bloodied hand print on the alarm. He went from an unshaven, exhausted man to the charming, confident individual he must have been before I met him.

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Trauma councillors and specialised therapists played an important role in his transformation. Healing both body and mind in a safe environment was so good for him. As things progressed, our conversations changed. He no longer speaks of the attack so much. Now, we discuss politics, the overreaction of the world to the new COVID variant and the future. Once he mentioned to me what he wants change at his house, how he wants to rebuild his life and how he looks forward to going back to his own suburb, I realized he was healing. I can see now that he won’t let the attackers win, the apathy of the police get him down or his physical changes limit him anymore. Jonah is back, victorious and stronger than before.

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We’ve had many guests who have sustained injuries through violence. In these cases we are particularly mindful of their sense of control. Giving them back their power is just as important as helping them bath, giving them exceptional food and leaving them to sleep and rest whenever they need it.

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I am incredibly proud of my staff that loved him and cared for him during this journey, but I have to give credit where it is due; this man had a sweet tooth like no other. I am convinced the Lindt balls he inhaled on a daily basis, played a huge part in his recovery.

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