Minter woman battling Crohn’s disease gets community help

Scott Turner Key Peninsula resident Ivy Griffith flushes her intravenous line after taking a vitamin concoction one day before surgery. She is living with Crohn’s disease –– an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. There is no known cure for this disease. Photo by Scott Turner, KP News

Ivy Griffith is one brave woman.

Griffith, 37, was diagnosed with Crohns disease 10 years ago, and recently had a very complicated surgery to fix some of her problems –– at least temporarily.

“The way I describe Crohns disease is your body starts attacking itself,” Griffith said. “Its an inflammation of the intestines. Its a debilitating disease that affects so many other parts of the body, hair, teeth and joints. Its constant pain.” 

Gina Singer, Ivys best friend, describes Ivy as “a wonderful mother, a very hard worker and someone who never asks for help.”

The two women have know each other for more than a decade through their work delivering papers throughout the Key and Gig Harbor peninsulas every morning.

“We work seven days a week –– every morning from about midnight to 5 a.m.,” Singer said.

“A few years ago, Ivy was in the hospital for a couple of weeks but she was able to get through that and was right back to work.

“Even on her worst days of pain, she was still out delivering those papers no matter what,” Singer said.

But things have gotten progressively worse and Griffith has been unable to work, or even eat anything, for several months.

“You get terrible diarrhea and you vomit and you basically cant digest anything,” Griffith said the day prior to bowel surgery. “And theres this awful twisting, stabbing pain.”

Since January, Griffith has only been able to eat ice chips. Her nourishment has come from daily IVs.

It became obvious that Griffith was going to need surgery. And even though her family has insurance, not being able to work was becoming a big hardship.

She and her husband, Bill, have lived on the Key Peninsula for 25 years and have three children ages 10 to 19.

Since Ivy has been laid up, Bill has had to be in charge of everything in their home, much to her dismay.

“He hasnt been able to get hardly any sleep, and I feel awful that he has had to do all the work and then come and stay with me in the hospital so much of the time,” Ivy Griffith said. “Ive worked all my life but suddenly I havent had a paycheck.”

Without her income, it became harder and harder to make ends meet.

So Singer set up a GoFundMe account and got in touch with the local Key Peninsula Facebook sites.

The people at the KP Cares site rallied their supporters and in early April they held a bake and rummage sale to help the Griffith family.

“We raised $1,905.79,” said Susan Mendenhall. “So many people from this community stepped up and donated baked goods and their time. And so many others stopped by and bought cookies and brownies and other goodies.”

The GoFundMe account has helped even more, and friends and strangers have also stepped up to help.

“The community has been so supportive,” Griffith said. “One lady cut my hair for free. Another woman brought dog food and cat food and kitty litter. Everybody has been so wonderful.”

There was even a surprise late night visit from Deputy Chris Todd from the Pierce County Sheriffs Department.

“He showed up here one evening around 9 or 10 oclock, and said ‘I heard you needed some help. Ive got some groceries for you,’” Griffith recalled. “He brought in about 12 bags of groceries.”

When Griffiith gave a shout-out to the deputy on Facebook, donations increased immediately. “All of a sudden we started getting lots and lots of help,” she said.

On April 16, Griffith had surgery to remove damaged sections of her large intestine.

As soon as he had talked with the doctors, Bill Griffith added a post to the Facebook pages. “Ivy is out of surgery and it went well,” he wrote. “She had to have not one but two resections. Her doctor said it was extremely bad, but here's the good news! So far she does not need a colostomy bag!”

Ivy was up and walking the first day and she was looking forward to having some real food. “Its been since Jan. 27 that Ive actually tasted anything,” she said.

At press time, Griffith was still in the hospital adjusting her body to taking any type of food by mouth.

For information or to make a contribution to Ivys fund, visit