JOHN Chesworth thought he was going to die as he lay in an ambulance holding his left arm which had been all but severed in the mechanism of a bin wagon.
John remained fully conscious after the accident on September 13, 2004, even to the extent that he was able to call his wife and brother on a mobile phone as he was taken to hospital.
Doctors re-attached the arm but after several operations over the course of the next week it became infected and had to be removed.
Former bin wagon driver John, 45, of Dukesway, Upton, is still coming to terms with what happened.
He said: 'It was a rear end loader which tips skips into the back. There was a bit of a blockage for some reason or other. I put my arm into a hole and the rest is history.
'There was pain and then all of a sudden there was no pain as the adrenalin kicked in.'
John, who is married to Karen and has a nine-year-old daughter Courtney, recalled setting eyes on what remained of his left arm.
'I had to have a look. It was severed apart from a little piece of skin,' he said. 'I thought I was going to die . I just didn't know. I said to the ambulance man am I going to die? He said 'You'll be fine'. I thought it's all right for him to say! Even the shock can kill people, but I was strong willed.
'I was on the phone to my wife and family - I said to the ambulance man to get my phone out of the wagon - I said 'I've lost my arm'.
'It was horrible because it was white due to there being no circulation and they asked me to take my watch off ! I used to work in an abattoir and I knew even though an animal had been killed it would still be moving and the arm was still twitching due to the nerve endings all being severed. It was unreal.'
John was taken from the scene of the accident in Connah's Quay to the Countess of Chester Hospital by which time the pain was starting to kick-in again.
'They put the arm back on. They had done a good job and taken a main artery out of my leg and got the circulation back. I even had feeling in parts of it.'
But unfortunately the arm became infected and after the fifth operation a decision was taken to amputate because the condition could have become life threatening.
'I thought 'that's my life over'. I wanted to say 'That's enough'.
John, a manual worker all his life, even considered having a leg removed to be grafted onto his stump after reading about an HGV driver in America who had the operation which involved reforming a hand out of the foot.
'The doctor said don't even go there.'
John, a skilled man, who has always done building, plumbing and electrical work around the home, is right-handed but has had to learn to adapt and found the process deeply frustrating.
'A one man task becomes a two man task,' said John, who has nevertheless managed to build a porch and a summer house at his house since losing his arm and drives an adapted automatic vehicle.
The one thing he has not yet plucked up the courage to do is go swimming with his daughter as he used to do every Saturday.
He admits to bouts of depression and anger which has stemmed from the humiliation of not being the physically strong man he once was.
'I don't think you can ever really take it in,' he said and revealed: 'I can still feel the pain in my hand, the phantom stuff. I'm not supposed to move what remains of my arm because it stimulates the brain. At first I had a full arm, in my mind, and now it's shortened.'
'It's been bad for the wife. It was worse for her than for me, even though I was the one who went through it. It made me a bit more aggressive.'
He hates having to ask other people to help him wash.
'They are a good set of lads at work but that's the worst part - asking somebody, 'Can you wash my hand?' That is so humiliating.'
Alan has been kept on as an assistant manager by his employers, Alan's Skip Hire at Saltney.