Chuck Norris is, without a doubt, one of the most well-known figures in the entertainment industry. Norris is an unstoppable force known for his flawless talents as a skillful martial artist, and his work as an actor, producer, and screenwriter. His finest work as a husband.
Norris met his wife Gena O’Kelley in 1997, and the couple immediately went on to the next chapter of their relationship by marrying a year later.
They went on to have twins together, as well as other children from past relationships. Despite their remarkable 23-year age gap, it was evident that Norris and O’Kelley had a romance for the ages.
Norris has had a busy and successful career, appearing in a number of episodes and movies. Such as “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “The Way of the Dragon,” “Invasion U.S.A.,” and “Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos.”
Norris, as a master in many martial arts systems, was able to put his abilities to use and become an immensely popular action star. When his wife fell ill, he put all of that on hold.
For a few years in the 2010s, Norris put his career on hold to take care for his wife. O’Kelly was dealing with some very serious medical concerns as a result of having many MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) taken.
Norris stood by her side through thick and thin, and the two weathered the storm together, going on to raise awareness about what happened. Continue reading to learn more about this touching story.
A Feeling That Something Was Wrong
Norris and O’Kelley first met in 1997, when she finished a small role in a television series in which he was starring. Later, the action actor invited her to Dallas, Texas, so the two could spend some quality time together getting to know each other. Their bond rapidly became romantic, and the happy couple married a year later.
The couple has a great connection that has withstood the test of time and all of life’s challenges. Their marriage was put to the test when O’Kelley had serious medical complications in 2013, needing her husband’s support. Norris put his career on wait to attend to his wife’s every need without hesitation.
Where it all went wrong?
O’Kelley’s health problems began when she had to undergo a series of MRI tests and contrast imaging. She had to have an injection of a sort of dye that functioned as a contrast agent for the scans.
This approach, which allows radiologists to view tissues, blood vessels, and organs more clearly, is a fairly common procedure.
O’Kelley asked her doctors if she could have all of the essential scans done at once, but she was informed she’d have to have three separate scans. This also meant that she’d have to undergo three dye injections.
However, something went wrong when O’Kelley was given the injections containing gadolinium, a sort of heavy metal with magnetic properties, and she became quite unwell as a result.
O’Kelley suffered from nerve pain, muscle weakness, and brain fog immediately following the first injection. She explained:
“Within hours of the first jab, my entire body felt like it was on fire – as if acid had been sent through it. At first, the burning was isolated, but it quickly spread.”
She became more concerned about the contrast agent, but she had been told that it would be out of her system in a few hours and that she should drink water to help flush it out.
Taking Care of His Wife
Despite physicians’ assurances that everything would be alright, Norris began to suspect that something was severely wrong, and he struggled to figure out what to do next.
“I can take her any place in the world; I’m fortunate enough to have the money to do so,” he said, “but where do I take her?”
He was eventually able to contact a doctor in Nevada. When the doctor informed Norris that his wife’s condition was critical, the actor placed all of his professional projects on hold to focus on O’Kelley and her health.
Norris stayed at O’Kelley’s side for five months, sleeping on the couch next to her while she worked on her recovery.
As medics did testing, it was discovered that the gadolinium had not left O’Kelley’s body after a few hours. The doctors were proved wrong, as a rather shocking amount of the element had remained. In an interview with Full Measure, she explained:
“This is in the danger zone, and you will see that I stayed at this level for a very long time.”
“Black Box” Warning By FDA
The FDA discovered a “strong connection between gadolinium contrast agents and NSF” in 2006. NSF (nephrogenic systemic fibrosis) is a fatal condition that causes organ and skin thickening and tightening.
By 2007, the FDA had issued a “black box” warning on gadolinium for patients with weak kidneys. These individuals would be unable to clear the element from their bodies. O’Kelley, on the other hand, did not fall into that category.
That is why she and Norris are using their power to advocate for greater gadolinium regulation.
Norris’s Response On How He Dealt Through His Wife’s Illness
Back in 2017, the actor reflected on what it was like seeing his wife sick. In an interview he said:
“Well, it’s the helpless feeling, you know, because I’m a take-charge guy, and then here I have something where I can’t do anything, and it was frightening,” he explained to WND. “And I just thank God that we were able to get through it, that she did recover, and that I got my wife back.”
He further told Full Measure:
“Not everyone who takes gadolinium will get sick,” Norris stated. “It’s those who are sensitive, such as O’Kelley. I’ve taken these and never gotten sick from them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something about the other people who are getting sick as a result of the gadolinium.”
Norris has spent more than $2 million on O’Kelley’s therapies. He has even given up his acting career to focus on campaigning. Norris hasn’t featured in a movie since O’Kelley’s illness, and she’s made only three small television appearances in recent years. According to Good Health, as published by Express: