Chuck Norris Gave up His Career & Nursed His Wife for 5 Months – She Couldn’t Articulate & Swallow

Most Chuck Norris fans know him as a tough guy, but his softer side came out when his wife fell ill.

The actor showed unwavering support for his wife, Gena Norris, after an MRI procedure left her incapacitated.

Chuck ensured she knew she was not alone amid the ordeal, and the pair are happier today.

In his heydays, Chuck Norris was that hardcore action movie guy whose rough-around-the-edges film roles somewhat reflected parts of his real life. However, fans saw the softer and homelier side of the classic actor’s life when his wife, Gena Norris, fell ill.

Gena’s illness took a heavy toll on her life, but Chuck never left her side. Here’s more information about the long-term and happily married couple’s marriage.

Chuck Norris and Gena O'Kelley during Michael Bolton's ceremony where he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame | Source: Getty Images

Classic action actor Chuck had a good run in Hollywood during his most active years, and his wife was right by his side. The “Walker, Texas Ranger” actor and Gena, a model, tied the knot in 1998.

Two years into their marriage, the couple became parents to a set of twins. The pair were their first children together as they two had children from previous relationships. Chuck continued to thrive in his career with his television show, “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which was a great success. Sadly, a dark time was around the corner.

In 2013, Gena visited medical practitioners, where she underwent scans to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Before the MRI scan, the star’s wife was injected with a contrast agent. The injected substance was supposed to create contrast in her organs so doctors would have a clearer outline and detect irregularities.

During an interview, Gena narrated her ordeal, stating how she demanded to know if the contrast agent was safe before it was applied, and the doctors replied in the affirmative. Chuck’s wife also recalled that it was more than one test.

She pleaded with the doctor to take all the tests in one day; however, the medical professionals insisted they had to be on different days. Gena had to go in for five or six nights in a row and mentioned that she felt different a few days later, but it was not a severe after-effect, so she did not give it much thought.

However, she started feeling burning sensations in parts of her body by the time it was close to a month. Gena went back to the hospital with her spouse right by her side. The doctors tested her for things like cancer and multiple sclerosis and wasted no time administering some pain relief medications, and in no time, Chuck and his wife were back home.

Gena and her spouse believed she was poisoned by the chemical and left to nurse terrible pains.
That emergency visit to the hospital became the first of several times due to the burning sensation all over her body. Gena shared in her interview that it felt like acid was poured on her insides.

One notable observation she made was that each time she was rushed to the ER over the burning sensation, she would notice that the pain had spread further. Months later, Gena’s life was completely altered. Instead of getting better, the burning feeling worsened and led to her being rushed to a family friend’s hospital.

Gena couldn’t feel some parts of her body; neither could she feed well nor take care of herself. She recalled having “horrible brain damage” and couldn’t think; her memory was terrible, and one of her arms was drawn up at an angle.

Her muscles also wasted away. Chuck’s wife also recalled having a voice deep inside that said her body was dying, and while walking out of the bathroom, she came across her husband, who gave her one look and knew he was about to lose her.

During a Houston hospital visit, while Gena was sober-minded and able to think, she told the medical professionals that she had been poisoned. The star’s wife insisted they figure out how to get the substance out of her body, or she was going to die.

Chuck confessed to seeing “death in her eyes,” saying, “I saw her dying.” Luckily, the undying support of her loving husband and her desire to live kept her going, especially for some people who needed her the most.

Chuck Was Gena’s Rock throughout Her Recovery
Gena’s deteriorating health turned into her worst nightmare overnight as she was confined to her hospital bed. Suddenly, she went from the healthy lady on the Total Gym infomercials to a sick person.

What ended up saving her life was alternative medicine in China. Before that, she went for intensive treatment at a clinic for gadolinium poisoning, which helped her to come back to life slowly. Chuck recalled how his wife couldn’t swallow before the treatment and was fed baby food.

She remained in a bed in the clinic on IVs for five months as her husband lay on a couch for the same amount of time next to her. Gena was grateful to her husband, who put his career aside and threw himself into the challenge of being his wife’s sole caregiver.

The actor, who appeared in the same interview as Gena, relayed that he did not leave her side and read 17 books to her on her journey through recovery. One thing that kept the actor’s wife going was her vow to stay alive so she could raise her youngest children.

Gena’s treatment revealed that the gadolinium — which was supposed to have left her body hours after her MRIs — had remained in her body at shocking levels. In a 2017 joint interview, Chuck confessed that his whole life is dedicated to ensuring his wife is as well as possible. Speaking about how he felt about the ordeal, the star admitted:

“It was scaring me to death. Nothing’s going on here, she’s dying right in front of me.”

After Gena’s condition improved, the couple knew they couldn’t leave things as they were. The duo decided to take the legal route to hold those responsible for her illness.

The Court Battle and the Couple’s Lives Now
Chuck and Gena were not about to sweep things beneath the carpet following the ordeal. The pair sued several health companies in connection to the gadolinium-based MRI that caused her pain.

The couple filed the lawsuit at a San Francisco court, asking for ten million dollars in damages. They added that the suit aimed to sensitize people to the dangers of gadolinium, a toxic heavy metal, in MRI contrast agents.

Gena and her spouse believed she was poisoned by the chemical and left to nurse terrible pains. However, some medical experts shared that gadolinium is low-risk, and others noted that the substance tended to accumulate even if the patient’s kidneys were in good condition.

These days, the decorated martial artist and his wife have been able to move past that harrowing period in their lives. In 2018, Chuck celebrated their 20th anniversary, calling Gena the love of his life.

In April and June 2023, the actor showed how well his wife has been doing ever since by sharing Instagram pictures of them. In April, the couple spent time in Hawaii, enjoying and making memories with family.

In June, his post showed the pair enjoying swimming together as they celebrated summer. Judging by the pictures, Chuck and his wife’s measures to save her life were successful, and she’s back to her normal self.