CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The pain of having chicken pox as a child is multiplied for adults when the virus returns as the shingles. Shingles attacks the nerves in the skin, causing an extremely painful rash.
Margaret Cornish and her husband Rowland, who are both 80-years-old, found love later in life and have been married for 15 years. This past year has brought on their toughest challenge as Mrs. Cornish was diagnosed with shingles.
"Best I could describe it, it felt like somebody had a torch going up and down my back," Cornish explains.
She was already in the hospital, being treated for the flu when she came down with shingles in January 2013.
The painful condition is the result of the chicken pox virus, reawakening in the body during adulthood. The red, blistery rash affects one part of the body, making everything painful to the touch.
Cornish says, "couldn't stand a sheet on it at night. Everything hurt. Everything hurt."
Mrs. Cornish described the pain as worse than childbirth.
And she basically became a prisoner in her home. She couldn't do any housework or take care of herself, and going out socially was a painful proposition.
Cornish loves church, but she hasn't been in more than a year now since she had shingles, because she says the thought of church members hugging and embracing her was just terrifying.
And even though he isn't the one with shingles, Rowland Cornish says he suffers right along with his bride. He hasn't been able to hug his wife, since she got sick.
"I love my wife, I love her with everything I got. And to see her in that kind of pain and can't do anything about it is terrible," he laments.
Even their little Yorkie Niko knew something was wrong and stayed by Cornish's side to comfort her. Mr. Cornish says he did all he could to comfort her as well.
"And when she came home, the only thing I could do was hold her hand, and that was her right hand, because the shingles was on the left side," he said.
But after several months, Mrs. Cornish finally found relief, thanks to a medicine made by a company called DermaTran. A pain management specialist prescribed it for her.
DermaTran has just three pharmacies across the country that can mix this special cream, including one in Georgia.
She states, "It made a huge difference, right now if I feel a pain, if I feel it coming on, I tell him, and he'll rub it on me, give me about half an hour, 45 minutes pain is gone."
A doctor told Mrs. Cornish she could have shingles for as long as two years total. That means she could be dealing with it for the rest of this year. But the lovebirds are holding on to the hope that soon, they'll be able to hug each other again.
Shingles can be prevented with a vaccine.
Most doctors recommend people 60 and even younger get the vaccine, especially if they have another serious or chronic health condition. Pharmacies administer the shot. The cost can range from $50 to $250, depending on whether you have insurance.