PHOENIX — An Arizona man whose eye socket was impaled with a pair of pruning shears said Tuesday he experienced excruciating pain during the ordeal and feels lucky to be alive.

Leroy Luetscher, 86, of Green Valley said he had just finished trimming plants in his backyard July 30 when he lost his balance and fell on the pruning shears.

The tool went into his right eye socket and into his neck, resting against the carotid artery. Half the shears were left in his head pushing up against his eye, while the other half stuck out.

Luetscher said he put his hand to his face and realized the shears had gone into his eye.

“I never had pain like that in all my life,” he said.

Luetscher, whose face was gushing blood, walked to the laundry room of his house and beckoned his live-in girlfriend, Arpy Williams, who called 911.

At University Medical Center in Tucson, Dr. Lynn Polonski, one of Luetscher’s surgeons, said the pair of shears “was wedged in there so tightly, you could not move it.”

The team made incisions underneath his right upper lip and his sinus wall, allowing them to loosen the handle of the pruning shears with their fingers. “Once we were able to loosen it up, it went fairly easily,” he said.

Doctors also rebuilt Luet-scher’s orbital floor with a titanium plate and put him on antibiotics to stave off an infection that could have proved fatal.

Luetscher still has slight swelling in his eyelids and minor double vision but has otherwise recovered.