Ten years ago we heard about the North Dakota farm boy who lost both arms in a tragic farm accident and survived to tell his story. How his dog licked him conscious, how he used his mouth to pick up a pencil to call for help, how he climbed into a bathtub to keep blood stains off his mom's new carpet.

Now that young man — whose arms were reattached successfully — tells of his struggles and triumphs in an engrossing book appropriately called Home In One Piece.

Before the accident, John Thompson was a shy, quiet, 18-year-old farm kid. Today's John Thompson is a self-assured young adult who doesn't blink twice at speaking in pubic.

Yet, dealing with the public was the highest hurdle he's had to jump. “Everybody says, ‘That accident and hospital stay must have been awful.’ But nothing compared to dealing with the hero worship,” he says.

Thompson's still embarrassed when told how “strong and brave” he's been. He figures it's what he had to do to stay alive. Having to wear the “hero” label and have security guards with him when in public have been heavy burdens. At the same time, he wants people to know that he's approachable. “It's a tough one to balance,” he says.

That's partly why he wrote the book, along with writer Paula Crain Grosinger. “Everyone has this image of me, and that's not who I am,” Thompson says. “I'm not a fan of being a hero. This is my way of telling everyone, ‘Hey, you think I'm such a tough person, but no matter how strong a person is, there are going to be times when he's down.’“

Thompson has walked a long road to be where he is now. He's endured 20-plus surgeries, learned how to handle the media and traveled widely. He lives alone, doing his own landscaping, snow shoveling and cooking. Over the next year, he'll promote his book, which he hopes will become a movie. Eventually, he'd like to go into broadcasting or music.

He's in no hurry. He learned 10 years ago what we learned on Sept. 11. That every day is a gift.

To order Home In One Piece, call 888-568-6329 or visit major bookstores. View Thompson's Web site at www.johnsbook.net.