"I really took for granted the simple joys from before my diagnosis. I felt like my UC had taken away the things I enjoyed doing."
When Nour Al-Timimi was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2011 at age 21, the news "changed her life sideways." She hadn't heard of UC before that point and didn't know anyone with the disease. She was suddenly in new territory.
"Not many 21-year-olds have to think about chronic illness -- what kind of medications they'll have to take, what it means for their future, or how it will shape their life socially, academically, and professionally," she says. "It required a lot of personal growth."
Al-Timimi grew up in a home steeped in Middle Eastern culture, where food was integral to social gatherings. Dishes that she had grown up with were now difficult for her to eat, and the shift affected her both physically and emotionally.
"I really took for granted the simple joys from before my diagnosis," she says. " I felt like my UC had taken away the things I enjoyed doing."
In the years since, Al-Timimi says she's adapted to her new normal. In order to manage her UC best, she first had to accept her body's limitations.
"Once I understood what I could and couldn't do, it gave me a sense of ease and calm," she says. "There are a lot of things in life we can't control and having chronic illness is one of them. But now that I have a deeper knowledge of my body and the disease, I can integrate myself more easily into settings I've always enjoyed."