Kathy Boulter from Hobart understands pathology from both sides of the needle.

She has worked as a collector in the Tasmanian capital for more than ten years so has seen many patients pass through her collecting room for a myriad of reasons.

Pathology collectors like Kathy are the face of a largely unseen but vital part of healthcare. As well as being an important link in the chain that provides the answers doctors need to know, Kathy is also a patient herself; she needs regular blood testing to manage her type 2 diabetes.

“I didn’t have any symptoms but there is a history of diabetes in my family so a few years ago I discussed this with my doctor who decided to check my blood sugar level. As it was a bit high the doctor began regular tests to monitor me and I made sure I was doing regular exercise and watching my diet to keep it at bay.”

Kathy says she was pre-diabetic for about four years but eventually was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

“My blood sugar level was creeping up despite my efforts and then it suddenly jumped so the doctor sent me for an HbA1c test that revealed I had type 2 diabetes.”

As a 51-year-old woman who is not overweight and had no symptoms, Kathy might not have realised the risk except for being aware of the familial link.

“A healthy lifestyle has always been an important part of our family life, so it has been a huge surprise to me that I have become diabetic.”

Her two brothers have diabetes and her sister was diagnosed around twenty years ago but has managed to reverse progression of the disease with lifestyle modifications. This was what prompted Kathy to discuss testing with her doctor.

Alongside her treatment, Kathy makes sure she looks after herself with regular exercise and keeping an eye on what she eats. She is managing to keep her HbA1c level relatively low and has testing done every 3 months to monitor her progress.

“Cooking is one of the things I have always enjoyed doing and so eating healthily isn’t hard. My regular exercise is walking with my husband and friends and a good workout at the gym.”

Kathy has been married to her husband Rod for 19 years and they have three “wonderful” children. She says she does not find her condition limiting, “I enjoy working in the garden, camping and cooking for family and friends.”

However, she is aware that if she didn’t manage her diabetes well, things could be much worse. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to complications such as heart disease, kidney damage and eye problems so early diagnosis and monitoring through regular pathology tests is very important.