We finally know why Chuck Norris, 77, has been missing from our screens over the last four years. The Walker, Texas Ranger actor was forced to leave his film career behind to look after his wife, Gena, whose health has been on the decline.
For the last four years, 54-year-old Gena, has been living with agonizing pain and constant weakness after a routine check for rheumatoid arthritis went horribly wrong.
The couple believe that Gena's debilitating condition was caused by a chemical, gadolinium, in the injection she received before an MRI scan.
Gadolinium, a metal commonly found in dyes, is injected into the body before a scan to help radiologists easily obtain "crucial live-saving information," and spot abnormalities like tumors and inflammation. However, studies have shown that the chemical is retained by organs like the skin, brain and bones.
Hours after Gena's scan, she began to feel a burning sensation as if her "whole body was on fire." She hasn't had relief since, and had to return to the hospital to manage the severe symptoms she was experiencing, including rib and joint pain, breathing problems and muscle weakness.
Unfortunately, doctors weren't able to pinpoint what was wrong with her, so she had to turn to Google. A bit of research suggested that she could be suffering from gadolinium poisoning.
By the time Gena realized what was affecting her health, she had lost 15 pounds, was confined to a bed and had trouble eating. The couple eventually sought help from a clinic in Nevada, where Gena was treated for metal poisoning with a calcium EDTA IV drip.
The treatment helped her heal a bit, but she still has a long way to go before returning to normal.
Now, the Chuck and Gena are facing a new fight. They've filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the chemical which allegedly caused the poisoning.
According to the Associated Press, in the lawsuit recently filed by Chuck at the San Francisco Superior Court, he claimed that the gadolinium has left his wife weak and experiencing "debilitating bouts of pain."
The action star is seeking over $10 million in damages to cover the millions of dollars already put towards Gena's treatment.
Although the documents do not note an official link between the chemical and illness, it does clarify that this is because of the lack of gadolinium testing in the past. Blood and urine testing only became available recently. Many doctors were not even aware of any conditions caused by the metal, so it's often misdiagnosed.
"One of the problems is this is a very misdiagnosed and underdiagnosed condition," said Todd Walburg, an attorney for the Norrises.
Back in May, the U.S Food and Drug Administration said that there was no evidence that proved gadolinium to be harmful, so medical experts weren't barred from using it.
Despite the FDA's conclusion, the law firm representing the Norrises has filed several other lawsuits against gadolinium manufacturers on behalf of other people who claim to have been poisoned by the chemical.
While he waits for the lawsuit to be settles, Chuck said that he will keep advocating and raising awareness for gadolinium poisoning.
"I've given up my film career to concentrate on Gena, my whole life right now is about keeping her alive. I believe this issue is so important."