Faces of LIFE – Dr. Véronica García Chaparro
“Family, Passion and Purpose Fuel Her Fire”
Dr. Véronica Andrea Garcia Chaparro graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Life University (Life U) in the 2018 Spring Quarter and graduated from the Life U Doctor of Chiropractic Program in the 2019 Winter Quarter. When she was not studying or in classes as a D.C. student, Dr. Chaparro planned more than 25 weddings a year as an event planner to pay her bills.
After graduation, Dr. Chaparro worked as a Seminar Liaison in Life U’s University Advancement offices for two years using both her chiropractic degree and her experience as an event planner to manage chiropractic seminars. She then went on to practice Chiropractic at Progressive Medical Center in Dunwoody, Georgia for a year and a half. Dr. Chaparro now works with two different organizations, managing four clinics for Whole Care Chiropractic and Wellness, a company that she created in Marietta, Georgia, where she practices functional neurology and wellness. She also works for the Georgia Accident and Injury Centers (GAIC), a concussion-based care organization with three locations in Lawrenceville, Decatur and East Point, Georgia. Both organizations are in and serve the underserved members of society, providing care to people who normally do not have good access to health care and have come as a last resort with their health conditions. Dr. Chaparro also recently created an ergonomic program and ergonomic training, which she and her team bring to several offices and corporations monthly. She loves caring for the staff at these companies and helping them provide support for each other through creating wellness champions and other holistic health-related strategies.
A Family Born of Love and Hard Work
Dr. Chaparro was born and raised in New Jersey. “I was very blessed to grow and be a part of a wonderful mixed family back home. My father is black Puerto Rican; my mother is white Puerto Rican descendant,” noted Dr. Chaparro.
“My grandparents are native Puerto Ricans and Spanish Puerto Ricans, and they moved back when she (my mother) was 17 [and] met my dad. My sister came in first. She is older than me, and she is my absolute inspiration in life! She is my best friend, and I admire her way too much and am OK with that! She is a medical doctor.”
Dr. Chaparro’s sister walked with her at her Life U graduation. Her sister did not get to walk at her own graduation because of Hurricane Maria, but they both got to walk as doctors at Dr. Chaparro’s graduation. Her sister and her family are so grateful to Life U for this and have a great understanding of Chiropractic. Dr. Chaparro’s sister refers every one of her patients to a chiropractor and shares alternatives in treatment with them. Alternatives offered by her sister include chiropractic referral, supplementations and essential oils to help manage the root cause of their symptoms. These two sisters love coming together and working together by sharing their experiences to help their patients.
Dr. Chaparro’s father worked in the pharmaceutical industry for Pfizer. He received his bachelor’s degree when Dr. Chaparro was in second grade. Her mom worked in IT for different corporations, but when she was in first grade, her mom began working as a teacher and has been ever since 2000. She teaches at the elementary level and now teaches elementary English.
“My parents are definitely inspirations. They are hard-working people. They grind; they do what they have to do to make sure that they gave their daughters great lives, and now we are paying them back,” said Dr. Chaparro.
A Life-Altering Experience for Both Father and Daughter
Originally, Dr. Chaparro thought she was going to become an orthopedic surgeon. What changed that, however, happened during her second year at college. Her father fell off the roof of their house and landed half on concrete and half on soil. His body was in deep trauma, including his spine being crushed, hips dislocated, and ribs and arm broken.
Puerto Rico is a very small island, and there is only one trauma center to serve everyone. It took some time to get him to the trauma center, and when they got there, they were full, so her father remained in the hallway. Eventually, he was treated, given pain medication and sent home. Once a fully independent parent, her father was now dependent on his family for everything. Dr. Chaparro brought this home by stating that her personality reflects her father’s personality before his accident. He was extremely outgoing, full of life and would get up in the morning with great energy, excited to begin a new day. He loved to celebrate every moment in life. This accident took all of that away, and her father became very sad and depressed. It was so bad that finally her father’s cousin, seeing his state, put him in a wheelchair and, against her father’s wishes, drove him to a chiropractor.
“That day, my dad came back with a smile. We didn’t go with him, but he came back, had a smile, and I said ‘What is that?! I haven’t seen that in a while, and that’s awesome to see it back!’” In a matter of a few months, my dad was biking every morning. He was moving, and he was just living. He was back, and I said ‘I want it. I want it because I hadn’t heard of it before, and I always thought it was this voodoo kind of thing.”
With her father working for Pfizer, her family took a traditional medical approach to healthcare, so this was all brand new. During a school fair, she stopped by to talk to a chiropractic college and took home their papers to review. After that, she decided to visit a local chiropractor to see for herself what Chiropractic was all about. This chiropractor recommended she visit his alma mater, Life University, at one of their LIFE Leadership Weekends and told her she must bring her mother with her so that they could explore together.
“I was in awe. By that Friday night, I was submitting all my transfers. I was submitting the application and was downloading my student virtual transcript from my other school because I was in college already and was going into physics.”
Dr. Chaparro was accepted into Life U by the time she returned home to Puerto Rico from LLW and moved to Marietta that December.
“It has been the greatest, most beautiful ride I have ever encountered in my life,” said Dr. Chaparro.
Another Life-Changing Event for the Chiropractor Herself
Dr. Chapparo experienced a life-changing accident of her own later in her life. At the time of her accident, Dr. Chaparro was working for a holistic healthcare company as a chiropractor taking care of patients post-stroke, dealing with chronic disease and cancer patients. She worked closely with naturopathic doctors, and she was already in that environment when she became a patient.
On Cinco de Mayo (May 5) of 2021, Dr. Chaparro and her partner Luis Cruz went to work out at CrossFit Gym in Marietta, the place where they first met. Dr. Chaparro loves this activity because it helps her decompress and destress.
“We were at the gym, and I was hiking on the pullup bar doing some motions, and my hands just slipped. There is no other way to describe it. What I remember is my hands just giving out, and my body went backward, and I landed on the back of my head. And I remember everybody just kind of freaking out.”
Dr. Chaparro was on the floor stabilizing her own head and at the same time trying to calm everyone around her down. It is also important to note that she made her own personal medical decisions at this time, respectfully declining 911 and an ambulance to the hospital. Her decision was an informed decision based on her own knowledge as a Doctor of Chiropractic and knowing the doctors that she wanted to come examine and help her.
“Calm down; I know what’s happening in my body. I might pass out in a few minutes because I can feel my body is just [going crazy inside],” Dr. Chaparro told the onlookers.
She then told those around her what to do next. Dr. Chaparro had Cruz get her phone and gave him the order in which to call certain people and what to tell them. She had the presence of mind to do this because her body was in survival mode at that moment. Because she also had a chiropractic office at the gym, she had all her tools and supplies available for use, so she had someone get an ice pack and a towel and place it on the back of her neck to stabilize her neck.
Her good friend and fellow Life U D.C. alumnus Dr. JaGerran Knight-Bryant came right away from home literally dressing in their pajamas to help. They moved Dr. Chaparro into her office space and began testing her. She was not passing any of the tests, so they carefully put her in the car and brought her to the chiropractic office where Dr. Knight-Bryant worked at that time to take X-rays of her injury. Nothing was broken, and they eventually reached Dr. Michael Longyear, former Director of the NeuroLIFE Institute (NLI) at Life U, who gave Cruz instructions on what to do next. Dr. Longyear told Cruz to check under her eyes for battle signs and her ears for fluid every 30 minutes. As the night progressed, Dr. Chaparro’s condition worsened. Cruz was speaking to her, but she was unable to answer him. She understood what he was saying and knew her answers, but “my brain wasn’t communicating with my voice to create words.”
By 7:30 a.m. the next morning, they were at the NLI to see Dr. Dom Fetterly. Dr. Fetterly told her that she needed to have a CAT Scan, brain imaging and an MRI done because at this point, she couldn’t speak, write or even walk on her own. “I would just fall out of nowhere,” she said.
At the hospital, they treated her as they would a stroke patient, which is key with these symptoms, and patients are moved to the top of the list for treatment for which Dr. Chaparro was very grateful. After doing all the stroke protocol, which thankfully was negative, she was sent home. From the hospital, Dr. Chaparro went directly back to the NLI so that they could put her in the hyperbaric chamber. As Dr. Fetterly was testing her, Dr. Chaparro could see she was failing every test. Being someone who has studied neurology, she was watching him do the most basic tests, and she was not passing any of them, which was extremely upsetting.
“It’s different when you know the definition of something, versus when you are getting it done, and you think it’s a game,” Dr. Chaparro said.
Her treatment at the NLI included going three to four times a week for the first month, and she did intensive therapy there for three months. At the time of this interview, it had been a year and three months since her accident, and now she only needs to go once a month. You could see the difference in her amazing recovery as we spoke for this interview.
“I owe everything to my partner, Luis, because I was completely dependent on him. I wasn’t able to work. I wasn’t able to do the same things my dad wasn’t able to do when he had his accident. I couldn’t shower, go to the bathroom, make some food for myself. And understanding that I had been living in Georgia for at this point seven or eight years by myself, and I am a very independent person, and now I was fully dependent.”
She talked about babies innately knowing what to do and how their bodies just start doing it, such as rolling over and crawling. Dr. Chaparro had to retrain her body to learn how to crawl again, write again, read again and walk again.
“To NeuroLIFE I owe my life, literally to Dr. Dom Fetterly and Dr. Mike Longyear.
As the months went by, Dr. Chaparro steadily worked on her recovery and gained back her independence. In December 2021, it was time for her to visit her family for the holidays in Puerto Rico. She was happy to have Cruz by her side to make that trip because the anxiety of going home created the worry of “what if I go backwards?”
“Chiropractic can be the answer to your yearning and wanting of what a well-balanced healthy life could be. I love to tell people ‘Why don’t you give it a chance? I’m not saying that it’s going to be the cure to all your problems. And I will never say that it’s going to be the perfect answer to all your issues, but just see what it can do in your life. No expectations; no definite because chiropractic reflects in a very different story for everybody. Chiropractic is about empowering your body. Your body is very unique, and your experience and mine are going to be very different,” said Dr. Chaparro.
According to Dr. Chaparro, Chiropractic offers over 200 types of techniques and specialties. She said that every chiropractor sees the body differently and how to address it. Even if two chiropractors are using the same technique, the technique will be unique to that doctor and that doctor alone.
A Call to Service
Dr. Chaparro loves coming back for LIFE Leadership Weekends to work with potential students and to speak at these weekends. She also speaks at various university clubs and shares her story because she loves giving back.
To her fellow alumni, Dr. Chaparro shares the following:
“I hope you are feeling fulfilled, and I hope you’re doing everything and more that you ever imagined you would be doing. I hope that if you are not as involved in the University, I hope that you come back in and give it another chance. Look at it from a different lens because it is different from when you were in the midst of the stress of the program that is very demanding and should be because we are dealing with people’s lives on a daily basis. But if you are loving the profession, practicing in your community and you need guidance and support, I know that this school always pulls through, so give it a chance.”
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