Health Plus: ALS, part 2 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: ALS, part 2


There is no cure for ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

So for eastern Iowans diagnosed with it, coping is a difficult process.

Here's Health Plus with one woman's story.

Up until she was diagnosed with ALS two years ago, Linda Gates was an active woman with a 30-year career as a medical technologist.

Now the 53-year-old is turning to her faith and to her family for support as she lives with a disease that has no cure.

"We've just kind of trusted in god that this is, you know, he never gives you anything that you can't handle. And so we've just kind of worked through it like that," says her husband, Jim. 

Neurologists at Covenant Medical Center say telling a patient he or she has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease is, understandably, not easy.

"It is a very hard diagnosis to make and it is very difficult to tell a patient that he has ALS."

In Linda's case, the Shell Rock woman was diagnosed when other problems were ruled out.

"There's no real test for ALS. But what you do is, you test and eliminate a lot of other things."

Linda's first ALS symptom was slurred speech.

"If somebody starts having weakness or they see that they have lost muscle mass in the hand, in the feet, in the thighs, and they start losing muscles," says Dr. Goel.

Doctors say ALS is a progressive nervous system disorder.

It gradually weakens muscles and can lead to death in 3 to 5 years.

"We still don't know why ALS is there. We still don't know the exact cause of ALS," says Goel.

The grim diagnosis has not killed Linda's spirit.

She wrote the following in a poem to God, "Use me for your will and your glory. Fill my imagination with the beauty and joy of your kingdom."

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