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Eugene Tikhomolov's novella describes the struggles of living in long-term care

BC Disability

October 11th, 2021

The following is an excerpt from Eugene Tikhomolov's novella, Listen, Mark is Calling from the Black Hole.

Tikhomolov has ALS, and is unable to move or to speak without the assistance of specialized software. His novella, based on his own experiences at Vancouver's George Pearson Centre, describes the struggles of living in long-term care.


All facilities where disabled people cannot speak for themselves create a good environment for sadists to appear. It is the unwritten law. Canada, Russia – it doesn’t matter where the facility is located.

Tikhov had so far encountered two sadists at the Facility. For such a big facility it was normal, approximately one sadist per one hundred nurses, or one percent, was his empirical assessment.

EN was one of the two at the Facility. One day she was upset when Tikhov insisted on having a shower on his scheduled day. “We have a shortage of staff”, she shouted. But when Tikhov asked for contact with a supervisor, she agreed.

In the shower room, she poured ice cold water followed by extremely hot water on the body of Tikhov, saying “This is what it is! Our shower” Fortunately, Tikhov didn’t have a heart attack. Moreover, even with this torturous shower, he enjoyed it because he hadn’t had one for a month. EN displayed visible enjoyment of her power.

The second sadist was DH - a truly rude person. Whatever she did was accompanied by pain. In the middle of the night her job was as refreshing as a blow to the elbow from a sharp object.

One day, she was upset when Tikhov insisted on turning his feet outwards to avoid pain on the sides of his feet. To relieve her irritation, she started to crush Tikhov’s toes. Fortunately, his toes didn’t break.

Another day she was outraged when Tikhov insisted on setting his head straight on the pillow. She took his head and turned it many times from side to side very fast with maximum amplitude.

Finally, she got tired and let the head land on the pillow in a natural straight position. It was rather an unusual solution! Most importantly, Tikhov’s neck had survived DH’s administrations again.

However, DH committed her ultimate sadistic act two months ago.

Tikhov had pain while urinating and asked the nurses to remove his catheter and they did. Obviously, this created an additional job for the nurses as they had to place a urinal into the bed. The nurses were unhappy with this extra task.

At night DH took action - she moved Tikhov’s computer away and re-inserted the catheter. Tikhov had intolerable pain and showed it in his face. He couldn’t make sounds because of the pain and his speech software was banned.

DH didn’t pay attention to him and continued the procedure. Her face showed the enjoyment of her power. As it was found later, she drilled a hole in the urethra in the wrong passage. Blood started to flow and emergency was called. Tikhov was moved to the hospital, where for a whole week they tried to stop the bleeding.

DH was not fired and an investigation was not completed, as nothing serious had happened in the eyes of the Facility. DH thus continued to come and treat Tikhov in her rude and painful ways.

Sometimes, the Facility nurses exhibited behaviours that were neither normal nor sadistic, but somewhere in between. One day, Tikhov heard how the nurses mocked a defenceless person when he tried to explain something by his moaning.

The nurses laughed and were very happy with their voice exercises as they attempted to imitate their patient’s sound.


Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to!


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