What Does Space Travel Have in Common with ME/CFS?

CJB

Well-Known Member
I can almost always be sure that pretty much everyone on the planet knows about stuff before I do, so I will not be surprised if this has been discussed before, especially since the article I'm quoting came out well over a year ago.

I am a huge Scott Kelly fan. He spent a year in space at considerable short- and long-term risk to his own health in a study that also did extensive testing on his twin brother (also an astronaut -- check out the picture of the two of them when they were little boys) who remained on Earth. But will science untangle the mechanism behind his strange symptoms upon his return to earth -- which look like some blend of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome/Disease and Orthostatic Intolerance with some other stuff thrown in.

Here's the article.

I struggle to get up. Find the edge of the bed. Feet down. Sit up. Stand up. At every stage I feel like I'm fighting through quicksand. When I'm finally vertical, the pain in my legs is awful, and on top of that pain I feel a sensation that's even more alarming: it feels as though all the blood in my body is rushing to my legs, like the sensation of the blood rushing to your head when you do a handstand, but in reverse.

I can feel the tissue in my legs swelling. I shuffle my way to the bath room, moving my weight from one foot to the other with deliberate effort. Left. Right. Left. Right. I make it to the bathroom, flip on the light, and look down at my legs. They are swollen and alien stumps, not legs at all. "Oh sh*t," I say. "Amiko, come look at this." She kneels down and squeezes one ankle, and it squishes like a water balloon. She looks up at me with worried eyes. "I can't even feel your ankle bones," she says.

"My skin is burning, too," I tell her. Amiko frantically examines me. I have a strange rash all over my back, the backs of my legs, the back of my head and neck – everywhere I was in contact with the bed. I can feel her cool hands moving over my inflamed skin. "It looks like an allergic rash," she says. "Like hives."
 

GrammaLinda

Active Member
Fascinating excerpt.

I can certainly empathize with some of his symptoms. Some days, when I can be out of house, I have to bend over and look at the changing surfaces before I can take a step or two. And the vertigo and eye issues.

I particularly feel his pain concerning what should I do when I feel this bad. First thoughts are going to the ER, then realizing nobody there will understand.
 

Merida

Well-Known Member
@CJB Thank you for this interesting article. Many of us in support group ( in L.A.) discussed how sensitive we were to barometric pressure changes. One member had an old fashion barometer - the bulb with a goose neck and colored water. It was amazing to see how the fluid levels changed with barometric pressure changes. And virtually everyone had more symptoms when the pressure dropped.

So, I suspect that Scott Kelly's symptoms had something to do with the pressure difference between Earth and Space. Not many people think about spinal fluid flow and pressures, and how important this is for the function of the entire central nervous system - and peripheral system, as apparently high CNS pressure can cause spinal nerve roots to dilate and put pressure on nerves from the spine to extremities.

Also, I had a CINE MRI ( with neurosurgeon) that looked at my spinal fluid flow in the lower brain and upper neck. I had spinal fluid jets and very abnormal flow - probably a result of my structure - mild scoliosis, rotation of thoracic and neck vertebrae, instability at the foramen magnum - the hole where the spinal fluid from the brain must flow to the spinal canal in the neck and beyond.

Appreciate that at the base of the skull ( where the spinal fluid can back up) are the cranial nerves, cerebellum, medulla, pons, and other bran structures. The cranial nerves are involved in smelling, seeing, chewing, tasting, salivating ( I lost all saliva at one point!), hearing, balance ( cranial nerve 8), swallowing, communication to/from thoracic / abdominal area, tongue and more.

So, pressure changes can wreak havoc just about any where. It seems likely that certain viruses can also affect the central nervous system pressure regulation. Dr. Diana Driscoll has wonderful info on this. What a crazy journey.
 

Merida

Well-Known Member
@CJB We are all working to try to understand what has happened and why. And what on Earth we can do to feel better. I think 'structure' is a missing link, but I feel totally lost at this point.
 

Danesh

Active Member
I read (listened to) his book. The quote is from the introduction to the book, and I assumed, the expected results from only being back in earth's gravity and atmosphere for several days at most. I always wanted to know how long those symptoms lasted for him. Any further info about all the testing and findings that have gone on over the past couple of years, regarding his health and the effects of a year on ISS, I am also interested in!
 

CJB

Well-Known Member
I read (listened to) his book. The quote is from the introduction to the book, and I assumed, the expected results from only being back in earth's gravity and atmosphere for several days at most. I always wanted to know how long those symptoms lasted for him. Any further info about all the testing and findings that have gone on over the past couple of years, regarding his health and the effects of a year on ISS, I am also interested in!
Thanks for the great comment.

I have been enjoying a NASA podcast titled, "Houston, We Have a Podcast". I haven't listened to the current episode, but it has DNA in the title, so I'm interested.:)

The subjects they cover are wide ranging but in one that was particularly interesting was an interview with the guy in charge of astronaut health and nutrition. I don't remember the episode title, but will look for it if you're interested.
 

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