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Diabetes, Schmiabetes!


Published on 10/21/2013
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Still full of vim and vigor at age 78, Anne Marie Smith says the secret to living successfully with diabetes is showing the disease who’s boss.

Don’t try telling Anne Marie Smith that her diabetes should be an obstacle to doing something – anything.  Or if you do want to try, be prepared to duck.   

Having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 3, the 78-year-old is a shining example of how to live a full life with the disease.

“You can live a good, long life by eating right and getting exercise,” The Dalles resident says emphatically.  “And there are good medical professionals here who will take care of you.”

Smith was diagnosed with diabetes so long ago that home blood sugar tests involved boiling a urine sample on a hot plate.  Doctors then told her parents their daughter would likely not live very long.

She sure showed them. 

After Smith married her husband Leon, doctors again had bad news: childbirth was too risky; she might die. She showed them again – six times.

“If someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m bound and determined to do it,” the former McMinnville farm girl says.

Until recently, Smith walked two miles a day.  She still gets out to walk the dog and climbs up and down the stairs in her two-story home “about a million times a day.”

The couple has even traveled by horseback along parts of the Oregon Trail, camping for days at a time.

Leon helps Ann Marie with her daily blood sugar checks and insulin shots -- “because marriage is a partnership,” she says -- and she helps him when he needs a hand with his latest restoration project, a 1946 Chevrolet pickup.

Ann Marie helps her husband with his restoration projects.

Smith says she’s done pretty much everything she’s wanted to do in life and credits family and medical professionals for their support.  She is now the patient of Maile Anslinger, M.D., at Water’s Edge Internal Medicine Clinic.

“I’ve had great doctors all the way through,” she said of MCMC. “And Dr. Anslinger has this marvelous ability to work with a person -- I can’t express how much she is needed in the community.”

Both Dr. Anslinger and diabetes educator Tracy Dugick, R.D., helped arrange a ceremony in 2012, where Smith received the American Diabetes Association’s Joslin 75-Year Medal for managing her diabetes so well.

Dugick says it’s a well-deserved one.

“Ann Marie is an amazing woman,” Dugick says. “She lives a very healthy lifestyle. She’s had very few diabetes complications and attributes any ailments she has to ‘old age.’  If I had to pick a word to describe her, it would be ‘spunky’.”

She’s all that and a bag of chips – reduced fat and low sodium, of course.

If you would like to learn more about MCMC’s Diabetes Health and Education services, please call 541.296.7319.