Three years ago, I was in intensive care trying to save my foot. Our first daughter was two, and I had to miss her first real Halloween. Just days before, we had learned that the surgery that put me in ICU was unsuccessful and we’d have to try again. In the face of a second 10-hour surgery in three days, I asked my surgeon if we were throwing good money after bad. He assured me we weren’t there yet. He was probably right.

I had spent the previous few months preparing for the worst. I hadn’t expected to amputate, but I did my best to understand the implications if it came to that. I started to see that it was more likely to enable me to live without regrets. We didn’t amputate that day, and I spent the next three years working to give my foot a chance.

In a way, I feel like the next three years were more about convincing friends and family that a below-knee amputation could put me in a better place. In that situation, everyone wants to support you, but amputation is permanent. And they’ve never had reason to understand the implications or the benefits. They’re justifiably concerned for you.

If I’m being honest, the extra efforts over those three years helped remove any possible doubt from my mind as well.

This year, with our second daughter having just turned two, I was home for Halloween and able to walk. A little bit. I’m still test driving a check socket, and it will take a month or so until I can comfortably wear it all day. It’s a process. A painful process. As a fellow amputee put it, this is the phase where phantom pain is replaced with real pain.

Despite the pain, things are great. My prosthetist’s office will become a second home as we tweak, adjust, and try out different feet. Sometime before the end of the year, I’ll be able to last all day with my new leg and get around with ease. Eventually I’ll be able to run again.

For now we’re just counting the days until we’re all able to run and play together for the first time ever.