Frank Meadows was a high school track and field star with a promising future. He had a passion for running and dedicated himself to staying in shape. Raised in a military family, he entered the US Naval Academy Preparatory School at 17, looking forward to a naval career.
Unfortunately, life had different plans for Meadows. By 25, he had undergone six surgeries, was dependent on nine different medications, suffered from depression, anxiety and PTSD and was hospitalized for attempting to commit suicide.
While at the prep school, Meadows suffered two tragedies that would scar him for life. He was sexually assaulted, a crime he reported but found no resolve and then, in basic training, he suffered a severe foot injury which would eventually end his competitive running – and military – careers.
His boot camp injury didn’t seem serious at first. He could walk on it, so his commanding officers pushed him to keep going. The pain became so severe, Meadows asked to see a doctor, but the X-rays showed no broken bones. After a week on crutches, a fluoroscope showed he had fractured his metatarsal bone and torn his Lisfranc ligament. The doctors recommended surgery.
“I was 17 and knew nothing about medicine, so I followed their lead,” says Meadows. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have never had that first surgery.” Mishaps with hardware installed led to a second surgery four months later with no physical therapy management. This was the military and he was expected to be tough.
To enter the Naval Academy, he had to pass a strenuous fitness test. “I was not going to fail. I trained hard, spent a lot of time in the pool and pushed to do all I could.” He passed and began his plebe summer boot camp. But tragedy struck again. On an obstacle course, he jumped off a platform and heard a pop. The pain was agonizing and very familiar. He had re-torn his Lisfranc and was given the option to leave and return next year or have another surgery. He had no plans on leaving voluntarily and underwent a third surgery during which he contracted MRSA. He temporarily lost his vision from the infection and was back in the hospital for a month.
With his physical injuries, waning eyesight and a mental health label from the assault, the academy sent Meadows home to Long Beach, Miss., with an honorable discharge, and as a fraction of the enthusiastic young man who left years earlier.
His journey would take him to several states where VA doctors prescribed additional medications and three more surgeries for his chronic pain. “Many doctors told me it was all in my head or that the depression and anxiety I was feeling were making my pain worse.” Psych counseling led to more medications, and side effects from one drug led to others to help him sleep, to go to the bathroom, even to perform sex. Before he knew it, he was taking nine including oxycodone and hydromorphone.
His life began accommodating the medications. Enrolled in nursing school, he was told he couldn’t take his clinical tests while on prescribed narcotics but felt he couldn’t function without them. So, he switched his major to medical administration.
In April 2019, Meadows moved to Palm Springs. By 2020 his pain had become unbearable. “I was so desperate for help. I considered reinjuring my foot purposely so I might be given the opportunity for amputation. I was thinking so irrationally and hated who I had become. I was an athlete, but now I was fat and didn’t look good in anything. I didn’t like how I felt and was very suicidal.” At 26, his 5’4” frame was now carrying 199 pounds.
One night while scrolling on his phone, an ad for colon hydrotherapy caught his attention. “My mom was into gut health and always doing cleanses. So, I decided to give it a try.”
That’s when Meadows met Carol Christian, RN, of California Wellness Institute (CWI), a functional medicine clinic in Palm Desert. She could hear his cry for help and spent much time reviewing his history and developing a plan. She said, “Give me 60 days and let us help you with a medically-supervised program.” Meadows was skeptical. “She told me I didn’t have to be on any of these medications,” he says. “But it was inspiring to hear someone in medicine talking me out of medication.”
“I knew that with all the meds he was on, he was very toxic and couldn’t eliminate on his own,” said Christian. “So, cleaning out his gut was a good place to start.”
Her plan was to cleanse his colon and liver, replenish nutrients and apply an HGC diet, including injections and caloric restriction. The cost was $925 to start a comprehensive program. “I was unemployed and it was the middle of a pandemic. I couldn’t afford this kind of care. The care I was receiving from the VA was free, but look where that got me. The traditional medical community had no more they could do for me, so I knew I had to do it.”
After just one hydrotherapy session, the change was night and day. “I had no swelling, no pain in my foot, no bruising, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this might actually work!’”
Christian scheduled comprehensive labs with CWI Medical Director Gene Rajaratnam, MD (“Dr. Raj”) that were more extensive than anything Frank had ever done. His body was so depleted, they began him on IV nutritional therapy drips and hormones for adrenals and thyroid to boost his immune and endocrine systems.
“Frank started to come to life within a week,” says Christian. “The change was pretty incredible. He was losing weight, his skin and eyes became clear, the bloating disappeared, and the swelling and pain in his foot dissipated.” She adds that detoxing the gut, liver and gallbladder also helps the body process emotions and directly impacts a person’s mental state; she could see the change in Meadows.
Dr. Raj and Christian made small recommendations to encourage Meadows to gradually wean down his medications. Within a month, he was free of the array of drugs he had been on for almost a decade.
Over three months, Meadows lost 50 pounds and a significant amount of pain. He began to feel like himself again. “For the first time since 2013, I felt truly happy. It took a different approach from medical professionals who look beyond the medical system and knew holistic therapies that could turn my health around, not just put a Band-aid on the pain. And it is delivered with empathy, care and support that inspired me to do this for myself.”
To celebrate his newfound freedom from all that was weighing him down, Meadows went skydiving. “I told the skydiving team my story, and they were in tears. They encouraged me to jump to help others and thus, the ‘Beat Anxiety’ on my hands.”
One of Meadows’ favorite quotes is now, “Don’t trust your fears; they don’t know your strengths.”
“I invested in turning my life around and challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone. I went from fearful of everything to doing the most fearful thing you can do – jumping out of a plane! It was the most empowering thing I have ever done.”
Meadows feels his purpose now is to share his story and to help others. “I know what it’s like to be in that place where there is no hope, and it seems no one cares; to hate where you are and how you feel. It takes a lot to be vulnerable, but sometimes it takes breaking down those walls to build yourself back up. Do I still suffer from anxiety? Yes, but I know how to manage it, to face it and to be ok with it. Do I sometimes have flare-ups? Yes, but it is nothing like it used to be, and I know how to manage it without the medications.”
His decision to major in medical administration paid off and this past spring, Meadows joined the CWI/LUZwave team. “I feel so blessed to be a part of a medical team that genuinely cares and offers hope through a variety of modalities which can turn people’s health around, and in turn, turn lives around.”
Follow Frank on Facebook @frank.falesmeadows and Instagram @grenci29. For more information on California Wellness Institute/LUZwave, visit www.cwi.la.