After Gregory Chase admitted that he was sick on GENERAL HOSPITAL, fans speculated as to how serious it might be. And unfortunately, in the April 18 episode, it was revealed that he didn’t have an easily-cured fake soap opera disease, but amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS. It is also sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the popular baseball player was diagnosed with the degenerative condition in 1938.
Alexis could tell that there was something wrong with Gregory, and his slurred speech initially made the alcoholic assume that he was drinking. As she continued to pressure him to open up to her, Gregory finally admitted he was sick but it wasn’t until he collapsed in her office and she wanted to call an ambulance that he confessed that there was nothing they could do to help him because he had ALS.
Early symptoms of the disease include stiff muscles, muscle twitches and weakness, and difficulty speaking or swallowing. As the loss of motor neurons continues, people suffering from ALS lose the ability to eat, speak, move, and finally, the ability to breathe.
Sadly, there is no known cure for ALS, and the only available treatment is to alleviate the symptoms to improve the quality and length of life. The disease can affect people of any age, though it is more common to begin around age 60. From onset to death, the average rate of decline is two to four years, although this can vary and in some cases, patients can live for more than 10 years.
Like Sonny’s father, Mike, succumbing to Alzheimer’s, this storyline will also not have a happy ending. So make sure you have some tissues handy as it continues to unfold on screen. On the plus side, we can look forward to Emmy-worthy performances from Gregory Harrison (Gregory), Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Michael Easton (Finn), and Josh Swickard (Chase).