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Refuse drivers memorial helps hospitalized worker
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City Refuse workers donated a $1,000 check for one of their own, Randy Karim, who is fighting leukemia and had just undergone a bone marrow transplant last month. The monies came from the memorial fund set up in the name of late refuse truck driver Jeff J.B. Burkhardt. Employees from left are Mike Boyd, Byron Decker, Manny Santos, Jeff Santos, Ron Tilton and Rick Sutton. - photo by GLENN KAHL

City of Manteca refuse workers proved once again how they stick together donating $1,000 to help Randy Karim with incidentals. 

Karim is a fellow worker who is fighting leukemia after receiving a bone marrow transplant 35 days ago today.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride, but I’m hanging on,” Karim said Thursday afternoon over the telephone.

“God bless everybody for praying for me and keeping me alive,” he said.

Randy noted that it was a “bummer day” because his cell count came in lower than was expected when he was tested late this week.

 “I hope next Tuesday will have a better read out.  I just keep up; I don’t let it get to me.  It has been a long road, but I’m keeping up even though it distracted me a little this morning.”

Randy said it has been a month now that he has been isolated from friends and some family members with at least 60 days to go before he can think about going home – around July 23.  

“I’m getting a little homesick,” he said.  In addition to his wife Maria, a few other family members go to the Bay Area to take turns in caring for him and cooking his meals.  Everything has to be home cooked and he admits doing a little of the cooking himself.  No fast foods or restaurant foods are allowed for fear of virus contamination and his low resistance level.

To while away his time he watches all types of sports on television from basketball to baseball as well as some cooking shows.  And, he walks short distances from his apartment having to wear his protective mask outdoors to ward off any viruses.

There are only two places that the mask isn’t required – his apartment and a special room at the hospital.  He has been warned not to stray too far, he said.

“I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have the mask off outside.  When I come in and take it off it’s like a breath of fresh air. 

Randy said the doctors are happy about his weight.  He started out at 245 and dropped some 75 pounds to only 160.  They were happy about a 22 pound weight gain that shows on the scale, he noted.

“I still have a part of my appetite, despite having to take 25 pills a day – a couple of those help me lose my appetite, but it’s not bad,” he said.  One bright spot in his recovery is that he received a gift in the mail from one of Manteca’s firefighters.

Anyone wanting to drop Randy a note can use the Internet or the U.S. Mail.  His address is 2850 Middlefield Road, Apt. 106, Palo Alto, CA, 94306 or Remember, he is not allowed to have visitors.

Randy said it has been lonely not seeing or talking to his friends and fellow workers.  He suggested that anyone who wanted to talk should call Glenn Kahl at the Bulletin who will in turn call him with a phone request and he would return the call when he feels up to chatting.  Kahl’s number is 209-249-3539.