But with his invention of the mobile application Hack My Health, Brown has in a sense helped to save his own life — creating an app that will allow him to regain a portion of his life that he lost because of medical problems and enjoy the activities that are close to his heart.
Brown, of Metropolis, has had a lot of medical issues and has a history of having regular migraines since the age of 7. According to his mom, Shandy Brown, Zac also had a history of passing out. When Zac passes out, he has a tendency to start shaking, which would lead people to assume he is having an epileptic seizure.
Zac is an active teen and has always loved running and cycling. It is not uncommon for him to run about 10 miles a day and 12 on weekends. His love of being active and outdoors led to the development of his mobile application after a 2011 incident.
Brown left his home that day to run at Fort Massac State Park. After about one and one-half hours, Shandy began getting concerned, and she and her other two sons went to look for him. She recalls they got in the car and drove around Zac’s route to see if they could find him.
After a couple of hours had passed she couldn’t find her son and started calling hospitals, explaining he has a history of passing out. She located him at Lourdes hospital.
Someone at Fort Massac State Park had found Zac. When Shandy arrived at the hospital, her son was completely unconscious, would not wake up and had trouble breathing.
After about five hours, Zac woke up. He does not even remember heading out to run that day. The only thing he does remember is waking up at Lourdes ICU.
His doctors were getting ready to release him when Zac became unresponsive, began twitching and was unconscious again.
The one common denominator was the fact Zac has headaches prior to passing out. Dr. John Roach diagnosed Zac with the Basler Migraine Disorder. Shandy took him to a neurologist in Cape Girardeau for awhile. Eventually, she took him to the University of Chicago’s neurology department, which confirmed Roach’s diagnosis.
According to Shandy, it was a relief for her and for Zac to know what was going on, pointing out there have been a couple of doctors along the way who have said they thought her son was “faking.” At the University of Chicago, the physicians increased Zac’s medicine a little bit. Now, when Zac passes out, Shandy knows how to care for him.
Even after knowing what the cause of Zac’s headaches are, that still created a problem for him. “I had no independence, no life,” he said, emphasizing that running was his way of stress relief and he lost that because of his medical condition.
Shandy was afraid to let her son go out and run or cycle because neither she nor Zac would know when an episode would strike.
Zac said when his mom had gotten him that first dinosaur of a computer when he was a kid, he wanted to know why the cursor blinked. He began teaching himself how to program computers and began learning development languages.
When his medical condition left him with the problem of not being able to enjoy his love of running and cycling, he again began problem solving, trying to figure out a way he could return to his active lifestyle, and that led to Hack My Health.
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