A Life-saving Father-Son Catch

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - May 06, 2009
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Tai-John Mizutani’s love of football helped save his father’s life

I was reminded of how precious life is April 26 thanks to my youngest son Tai-John and his love for the game of football.

Sunday mornings at our home are routine. While everyone is asleep, I grab a quick bite, down several cups of coffee and quietly rush out the door for a long training run with my canoe mates. This particular Sunday we were meeting at Kailua Beach, but I wouldn’t make it.

For some reason we broke “our routine” that day and it may have saved my life. My wife and daughter were making pancakes and I knew I’d be late out the door. The guys would understand.

On days I train for more than two hours, I take two Aleve caplets before I enter the ocean in anticipation of the fatigue and pain that greet me when I return to shore. I know it’s not a healthy way to recover, but through the years I found it works for me and I’ve never had a problem with any anti-inflammatory drug in the past.

I was running late so I changed my routine as well. I took the caplets at home after breakfast.

I was just about to load my canoe when my son asked if I could toss football with him before I left. My son knew I made a commitment to speak at an event later in the day and said in his sweet, manipulative voice, “Dad, since you’re missing my game, can you warm me up before you go?”


I looked at the clock but I knew this was important. In 15 minutes we built up a good sweat but something odd was happening. My right eye started getting red and my tongue and lips felt like they were swelling. Five minutes later my son said, “Dad your eyes are red and swollen.” By then I was coughing. “What’s happening?”

My breathing labored and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. When my wife saw me she knew something was wrong. My eyes were nearly swollen shut and I was gasping for air. Forget 911 - we were driving to Castle Medical Center.

Upon our arrival the woman at the registration desk recognized the urgency. “Can you breathe?” she calmly asked. I nodded yes and within seconds was being cared for.

The nurses asked a few questions and my anxiety disappeared. Still, there was this breathing problem and it was intensifying.

Dr. Vincent Ritson asked a few more questions: “What did you eat? Have you done anything different this morning? “No,” I said, “except for my Aleve caplets.”

Bingo! I was having a severe allergic reaction. But how could that be? I’ve taken this for years and never had a problem!

Turns out it happens, your body can change overnight.

The incredible staff at Castle reversed most of the symptoms within minutes but not before giving me a shot of adrenaline in my right arm, a shot of Benadryl into my triceps muscle on my left arm, an IV of more Benadryl while breathing through an apparatus to loosen up my throat.


At that moment, my wife and son walked in the room. The timing was bad because I didn’t look good. I heard his voice, “Daddy.” He was crying but I told him the doctor and nurses were already making me feel better. Try telling that to a 9-year-old when all he sees are tubes and needles.

Several hours later I was at home resting. The eyes were still swollen, but I could breathe. And that’s when I heard my son tell my wife, “It’s my fault, Mom.”

He needed to know the truth about this life-changing moment.

I sat him down, looked into his teary eyes and told him, “Son, you saved Daddy’s life.” He looked confused, so I explained: “If you didn’t ask me to play football, Daddy would have been in the ocean when I had my allergic reaction. I may not have made it to the hospital in time. Thank you for being my angel.”

At that moment it registered and he smiled while wiping the tears from my cheek. I held him tight - and took a deep breath.

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