The Connecticut woman who was attacked by her friend's chimpanzee in February, revealed the mangled remains of her face on the Oprah Winfrey show today for the first time, publicly showing the remnants of her missing eyes, nose and lips.
Charla Nash, who wakes up every day in a hospital room at the Cleveland clinic where doctors change her bandages daily, told Winfrey she rarely touches her face so as not to learn the full extent of her injuries.
"I don't ask a whole lot about my injuries. I know that I have my forehead," she told Winfrey.
Nash, 56, must drink all of her meals with a straw though a small hole where her mouth used to be, She said she longs for the day when she might be able to eat "a hot dog or piece of pizza."
Despite her injuries, Nash seemed remarkably upbeat. She said she felt no pain, was not angry and was ready to move on with her life rather than dwell on that horrific day.
"I'm the same person I've always been. I just look different. There are things that happen in life you can't change," she said.
"I don't think about it [the attack.] Theres no time for that because I need to heal, you know, not look backwards."
Nash was mauled by a 200-pound adult chimpanzee named Travis, owned by her friend and employer Sandra Herold. Paramedics responding to a 911 call said they found pieces of Nash's fingers strewn on the floor and her hands looked as though they had been through a meat grinder.
"The monkey had ripped off her entire upper jaw, had ripped off her nose, which as hanging by a thread," said Dr.Kevin Miller, who treated Nash when she taken to the emergency room. "We found extensive dirt, chimp fur, and chimp teeth implanted in her bone."
Nash is missing both hands, but had a thumb surgically replaced on her left hand. Doctors removed her eyes and grafted a piece of her leg to where her nose used to be.
"I'm not a candidate for a hands transplant because I have no eyesight. I hope somewhere along the way to get a face transplant and get a hand transplant at the same time," she said.
Nash said she does not remember anything about the morning when Herold called her to help get Travis back in his cage.
"I don't remember anything and they told the doctor that I don't want to remember," she told Winfrey.
But the 911 calls Herold made describe a chilling scene. On the recordings, Herold can be heard screaming that the ape had killed her friend and was "eating her!"
"The chimp killed my friend!" says a sobbing Herold on the tapes. "Send the police with a gun. With a gun!"
The dispatcher later asks, "Who's killing your friend?"
"My chimpanzee!" she cries. "He ripped her apart! Shoot him, shoot him!"
Nash goes for daily walks around the hospital and relishes the occasional visits she shares with her 17-year-old daughter Brianna.
"I'm sorry I can't spend more time with my daughter. I know she misses me. I miss her too," Nash said.
Among the moments that she relishes is when her daughter crawls in bed with her and they hold each other. Among the few regrets she expressed was her inability to help her daughter pick out a prom dress.
"Her prom is coming up and I can't pick out a gown, so I really hope she picks out something appropriate to wear. I hope she has a good time there," Nash said.
When outside her hospital room she wears a hat and veil, usually made from a handkerchief attached the brim of a straw hat.