Astronaut Scott Kelly at one point in his life, held the record for the most consecutive days spent aboard the International Space Station, an achievement that unfortunately has come with a high cost. Upon returning home to Earth, Kelly now suffers numerous health problems caused by living in space, but he expected as much when he signed up for his 340-day mission. Scientists studying the effects of outer space on the human body hope that Kelly's readjustment to Earth will help them better understand how living sans gravity affects a person's health. Kelly, who has an identical twin brother who also happens to be an astronaut, makes for a perfect subject when examining space-related health issues. Both he and his brother, who spent six months in space, could shed light on the short and long-term health problems caused by outer space.
After spending a year back on Earth, Kelly now shares his health struggles in a new book entitled Endurance. While his experiences may sound like something out of a TV show about space, Kelly's medical issues are tragically real. Scott Kelly's health problems sound absolutely grueling, and he will face issues with his health for the rest of his life. Space already sounds scary enough, and the effects of space on Scott Kelly's body show living in zero gravity comes with zero health perks. Check out these excerpts from Endurance that won't exactly have you signing up for that first trip to Mars:
Legs Like "Alien Stumps" And Ankles Swollen To A Bursting Point
Kelly writes on page seven of Endurance:
"I can feel the tissue in my legs swelling. I shuffle my way to the bathroom, 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."
A Burning Rash All Over His Skin
Kelly soon after discovers a strange rash:
"'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.'"
An Extremely High Risk Of Cancer
Kelly's cancer risk was significantly increased by the time he spent in space. According to The Globe and Mail, "During his months in space, Kelly had more than 30 times the exposure to radiation of a person on Earth – equivalent to about 10 chest X-rays a day."
Relentless High Fever
On page six of Endurance, Kelly speaks about feeling unwell.
"'Amiko,'" I finally manage to say. She is alarmed by the sound of my voice.
'What is it?' Her hand is on my arm, then on my forehead.
Her skin feels chilled, but it's just that I'm so hot. 'I don't feel good,' I say."