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My View

A search for meaning after my near-death

By Dennis Erickson

Oct. 24, 2019, started out the same as any other day. My wife and I were sitting watching the news on TV. It was 8:30 and I was drinking my coffee with my laptop in front of me.

Suddenly I started to snore briefly and then my breathing stopped and my wife realized she had to act quickly. I had fallen into sudden cardiac arrest, or sudden cardiac death. My wife kept her cool and once she realized I wasn’t just sleeping she started to administer CPR. She called 911 and the Town of Tonawanda paramedics were at the house in four minutes.

The next two weeks were told to me by my wife, Amy, since I have no memory of it. I was rushed by ambulance to the ICU at Buffalo General Medical Center. Tubes and hoses of all kinds were inserted into me and I was wrapped in an ice pack. The doctors didn’t have much hope since there is only about a 5% to 10% survival rate when this happens. Three days later my heart stopped again. CPR was administered and I was revived again.

During this time I was aware of a bright, multicolored light shimmering close to me. I was having an out-of-body experience. I heard very clearly three words that I will never forget and that give me chills every time I recall them, causing tears to stream: “You’re not done.”

During this time I also had a conversation with someone that I grew up across the street from in Tonawanda that was killed in a plane crash a couple of years ago.

After almost three weeks I was put into a semi-private room in the rehabilitation wing. I was aware of my surroundings and visitors for the first time since being admitted into the hospital. My rehabilitation responded so quickly that the therapists were amazed. My minister as well as my doctor said I was a walking miracle.

Dennis Erickson.

I thank God that I made it home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the new year that may have never happened.

Even though I made a 100% recovery I will be living with some changes in my lifestyle.

During my stay in the hospital I had a defibrillator/pacemaker inserted in my chest and will be taking several prescriptions to help it from happening again.

This experience has strengthened my spirituality and eliminated my fear of death. I have a much greater appreciation for the time I have left knowing that it can change in an instant.

I have an even greater love for my family, my wife, my son and daughter, my five grandchildren and my two stepchildren. I have a tremendous respect for my wife, not only for saving my life, but what she had to go through during my ordeal. She had to take care of everything from bills and household issues to making medical decisions on my behalf as well as driving to the hospital every day.

One of the questions I have had since my after-life experience is what exactly am I to do with my additional time. The voice telling me I am not done has made me constantly question myself as to what it may mean.

It makes me think that there is something I am supposed to do that will justify my coming back to the land of the living. Since I am almost 72 years old I don’t expect to discover a new world or bring about world peace because I just don’t think I have enough time left. But you never know.

Dennis Erickson, of Town of Tonawanda, is motivated by a voice telling him: “You’re not done.”

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