March 23, 2012 at 6:57 PM ET
Charla Nash has new brown eyes, can smile and loves to listen to books on tape.
Nash, the woman who three years ago was brutally attacked by a chimpanzee that tore off her face and hands and blinded her, made these revelations in a recent interview with the Hartford Courant.
The paper reports that Nash “casually demonstrated her ability to smile, to a limited degree, with the face that she received in a highly publicized transplant” last May in Boston.
"Every day my muscles get better. I can smile," Nash said in the interview. When one side of her mouth went a little higher than the other, she adds: "It creases up here," and gestured with a forearm in the direction of her mouth, the paper reported.
The 58-year-old Nash, who first revealed her new face on TODAY last August, is still on a long journey of physical rehabilitation. She’s been fitted with a pair of glass eyes and gives the impression that “she’s in a visual lock with the person she’s talking to,” the Courant reports.
Nash’s speech is careful and still slow, and her stride is hesitant, requiring help to walk at all times.
But one area she is not lacking in seems to be optimism. She tells the Courant:
"I don't know what the future's going to bring ... so I don't get my hopes up," she said. "I mean, I hope someday I can live in my own house ... and I'm hoping I can have horses again, like I used to have. I don't know. I don't know if, when, how, why ... you know."
Nash says the tragedy she endured changed her life dramatically. Once very independent, she is sad that she now has to depend on a lot of help.
“I can't change myself. I just can't walk anywhere by myself. My life depends on really not being alone…”
But she tells the newspaper:
"I'm very happy that I'm here. I find it remarkable and absolutely amazing that I could be sitting here talking to people. I thank God that I've had the opportunity."