I’ve been very moved by the story of Charla Nash since I first heard of her being mauled by her friend’s chimpanzee, and I posted about it here more than a month ago. It’s probably because I’m both a nurse and an animal lover that it has affected me so much. I was relieved to hear that the family does not blame the chimp. Said her brother Michael, “I do not blame Travis. He is an animal that acted as a chimpanzee. Living in a cage is cruel for this animal and amounts to mental torture.”
When I wrote the first post about Charla, I sent an e-mail to her brother to ask permission to use one of the photos of Charla from the Web site that’s been set up for her. He was kind enough to send us a few other photos, including the childhood photo of Charla that accompanies this post.
Charla Nash is being treated at the Cleveland Clinic, the same hospital where Connie Culp received this country’s first face transplant. According to Michael J. Nash, Charla has had multiple surgeries, including reconstruction of her cheekbone, eye socket, and nose. She will not regain her eyesight. There have been some complications related to the surgery, such as wound infection that is being treated. Luckily she has not lost her sense of smell and has appreciated the scent of flowers brought into her hospital room.
Charla’s speech is improving but is still distorted at times. She sometimes expresses anger at having to receive medical treatment and has stated she wants to go home. She still doesn’t know the extent of all her injuries. There are times when she’s confused and doesn’t realize she is in the hospital but thinks she is at the home of friends or family. She has been able to take liquids by mouth.
If you would like to write to Charla, visit her Web site at friendsofcharlienash.com. Her brother is printing out all e-mails of encouragement and reading them to her.
And here’s a video of an interview with Charla’s daughter, who appeared on the Today Show on Friday.
Christine Moffa, MS, RN, AJN clinical editor