Allen Muench was fighting for his life when he checked into the hospital in November with COVID-19. After just 36 hours under the care of his doctors and nurses, Muench says he “felt like a new person.”
Muench, a longtime Daily Signal subscriber from St. Louis, joins the show to share his personal experience with the novel coronavirus and how Americans should prepare in case they become infected. He also explains why he’s thankful for President Donald Trump’s leadership during the pandemic.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Rob Bluey: We are joined on “The Daily Signal Podcast” today by Allen Muench, a longtime Daily Signal subscriber from St. Louis, Missouri. Allen is also a COVID-19 survivor, having recently battled the virus alongside his wife. Allen, welcome to the show.
Allen Muench: Thank you, Rob. Glad to be here.
Bluey: You and I first connected way back in 2016 after I attended a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and I believe you saw some news about that and you wrote to me at that time because you were facing censorship from Facebook on your posts. And I’d like to come back to that and talk about it in a moment.
But first, I want to hear more about your story and your battle with COVID-19. And I think it’s so important because in a country of more than 330 million Americans, we now have more than 14 million who have had COVID and you’re one of them. But many people might not have any firsthand experience. So can you take us back and explain how you believe you contracted the virus and what it was like initially?
Muench: First of all, I just wanted to say, I’m not a medical expert. I’m not a COVID-19 expert. I am just sharing my account of what happened a few weeks ago in November.
Wednesdays we always have our grandchild and we usually try to take him to one of those parks with all the playground equipment. And this was a newer one that we’ve been to and they had some low-hanging bars, steel bars.
And when you’re chasing your grandchildren, you’re usually watching them, you’re not looking up. And unfortunately, my wife ran into one, hit her in the forehead, and she felt that it was a pretty good hit. So that night she was concerned about that she might have, from the hit, what you would call it?
Bluey: A concussion?
Muench: A concussion. Yes, thank you. I’m still dealing with the COVID fog myself.
So anyway, we went to a local hospital here, a great hospital in St. Louis. Actually, in St. Charles. St. Charles is next to St. Louis County. And she was a negative for the concussion, but it was two days later I showed signs of COVID and then the next day after that I got tested at our local hospital. And then it was Sunday, I think around Nov. 14, that I got the diagnosis of COVID.
So basically, we got it at an ER, we had our mask on, every place in the world is social distancing now, so they were doing all the right things. So we got it.
The bizarre thing, if I can get into this, Rob, is this is not the flu we all got five or 10 years ago where you get a stomach ache and a headache and a fever and it goes away in a few days. This thing has a mind of its own.
I started out not too bad, coughs and chills, Day One and Two, things like that, maybe a little stomach problem. And then Day Three, nothing at all. I felt great. I’m painting, Day Three and Four, a portrait of our grandchildren and feeling guilty because everybody else that has COVID is suffering, but that was short lived.
On about Day Five, then more symptoms came back. Bizarre. I had the brain fog. I had a rash. It was about a 6-by-6 rash on my hip. No appetite. Runny nose. And everybody’s symptoms, from what doctors tell me, are different than someone else’s. So then, was it Day Five or Six, things subsided and you’d have a good morning and a bad afternoon, or something like that.
And then I got close to Day Seven and Eight and it wasn’t too bad. And I’m thinking, “I’m going to get out of this. I’m going to beat COVID.” And then it got into my lungs. And I’m a high risk, I’ve had double pneumonia. So it was [a few] weeks ago on a Sunday morning, middle of the night. And Joni had COVID too, my wife. So she wasn’t feeling well. So I just basically wrapped up my phone and a charger and drove to the emergency room.
And I’m not saying this to be dramatic, but I was so weak and so tired, before I could even put the key in the car, I kind of hunched over the console and slept for a couple of minutes. That’s how weak it is, but I didn’t want to get an Uber driver sick or anything like that. So I thought, “I got to get there on my own.”
I drove there about 1 a.m. and within not very too long, they realized that I was dealing with pneumonia and they’re X-raying and blood tests, all that kind of stuff.
Very quickly they had a plan in place and they said, “We’re going to give you remdesivir and Decadron to help you breathe and we’re going to admit you in the middle of the night.”
I did ask the doctor then, because we’re all kind of curious of this, how this flu spreads. And when I said, “Hey, I was here a week ago with the concussion issue and I had this social distancing. I had the mask.” And the doctor almost smiled and he goes, “Sir,” he said, “this thing can travel 30, 40 feet at a time. It can pierce through a mask with ease.”
He said, “We’re all trying to do what we can do, but especially in a hospital atmosphere where there’s a lot of germs floating around,” he said, “there’s hardly any way that you can stop it.”
They admitted me, they got me on the good drugs. And by the end of that Sunday, 20, 22 hours later, I was already starting to see my oxygen levels rise and starting to feel a little better.
But because I have two nurses a day, I was able to talk to them and just get the inside story because all I had heard up until before I got in the hospital was what you saw on the news and it seemed to be very dubious of what they were saying. …
Oh, by the way, these nurses were incredible, it’s part of the BJC system here in St. Louis, and [they were] confident and took care of me. They did everything they could. They had no fear in them.
Most of them have already had the COVID because that’s where they work and it’s probably in the air stream. And so then they’re going home and they’re dealing with it.
Probably if they’re younger, they live with their parents and [are] giving it to their parents. And if they they’re older and they have a family, they’re giving it to the husband. So they had a lot of stories to share.
I had 12 symptoms and maybe zero of them were the same as some of the nurses. One nurse just had a bad back, bad headache, and one other thing, and she was sleeping 22 hours a day for about a week in her 20s, so she’s a healthy person, before she started to come around.
So every time I would share my symptoms with somebody else, especially this patch I had, looked like I scraped myself or something, they just looked at me, rolled their eyes, and then they would share what they had. And the word I heard the most from doctors and nurses was the word, “It’s unpredictable.”
Bluey: Well, it certainly seems that way, Al. You were keeping in touch with me throughout this. I think that you first told me back in mid-November, and you told me you had COVID, you were on Day Four, the symptoms were pretty minimal. You shared how you thought it had happened.
A few days later, you checked in, I think it was on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and you said you’re feeling fine—you’ve had the flu, that’s been worse than this. And then I didn’t hear from you for several days. And the next thing I know you, you tell me you’ve been to the ER.
Fortunately, at that point, you’d turned the corner and you’d you come off the oxygen and you felt better. It just is really unbelievable to hear this story about how dramatically it can change just within a 24-hour period.
When you decided to go to the hospital, what were your thinking? Are you in a state of mind where you’re not sure you’re going to come out of this, or you’ve got a lot of hope that they can get you the drugs that you need to bounce back?
Muench: Well, normally I’m a “walk it off” guy, whatever, because I don’t like to run to the doctor for every little scratch and sniffle I get. But 24 hours or 36 hours before I went to the ER, my wife knew my cough wasn’t good. And she kept saying, “You need to go, you need to go.” And I kept thinking, “Well, I’m almost at this 10-day period of being out of this, maybe.”
But since I had double pneumonia and I knew what it felt like, that’s what I was feeling the night before I drove. So I purposely waited until 1 a.m. because I wanted the ER room to clear out so I could get all the care I could. So that’s why I waited as long as I did.
But no, I knew what double pneumonia felt like and I knew I probably had it and knew that I had to throw in the towel and not be such a tough guy and go in there.
Bluey: You told me that you’d like to personally thank President [Donald] Trump for his response to COVID-19. Of course, the president himself battled COVID. What’s your message that you want other Americans to hear based on your own experience and why you credit President Trump?
Muench: Real quickly, before I voted for him in a primary in 2016, and I think my wife was a [Sen. Ted] Cruz guy at the time, we were driving to the primary and I only knew what everybody else saw in the newspapers and TV show and Oprah and all that stuff. And I remember looking at it, I said, “Vote for who you want to vote for, but this guy gets the job done and he’s a winner.” I’ll never forget telling her that.
There’s no doubt. And I’m not saying this to flatter him or flirt or make conservatives feel, well, the guy to me is part genius and he’s a hard patriot worker. And from that, what I feel they developed—now, I’ve had seven, eight, nine months for the hospitals to get a reactionary program going.
In that time they found the right drugs; super confident, everybody in the system, this BJC hospital I went to. And it’s like when you walk on an airplane, you want to look at a pilot that you know is going to get you from A to B safely. And when you look at these doctors and they’re so confident, to me that’s the beginning of the healing process: “OK, I don’t know what they’re going to do, but they’re going to do the right thing and they’re going to get me healed.”
Anyway, I feel the credit starts at the top and I believe and I watched some of those sessions back in March, April, and May. And I know not everyone was on board with President Trump, but I’m a survivor and I think that the system they set up … Now, there’s two different things going on.
I got the Cadillac drugs, the remdesivir and the Decadron. My wife didn’t. When I was in the hospital and getting these IV drips for four days, she did drive herself to the ER and she did not have pneumonia. And I don’t know how they do the rules with the drugs and all that, but they sent her home and she was not feeling well when she drove there.
I wasn’t home. She was kind of on her own and she explained to me, she was so tired she couldn’t even take her coat off when she got home. She just slept for hours and hours. And it was hard for her to even take care of herself because you get so weak you can barely move.
In that case, I have to give more thanks, President Trump, because whether you are for or against the drug, the hydroxychloroquine, that seemed to be the only option left.
And as I watched the few days before we got that medication, she wasn’t moving, just coughing and writhing in pain. And it was frightening because normally we can call a doctor and get something for our loved one or ourself or whatever, and I couldn’t do anything.
We’d call the ER and they’d say, “Well, you can bring her in, but if she doesn’t have pneumonia or something, we’ll send her home.” And that wasn’t a good enough answer.
Anyway, it was [about] a week ago, Sunday or Saturday night, we secured hydroxychloroquine, and you take two pills a day. And it was about Day Three—so more or less Sunday, Monday, something like that—where we finally started to see her make some improvement. And I can honestly tell you, it saved her life.
Bluey: Al, we’ve been praying for you and her throughout these past few weeks. And it’s just a blessing to talk to you today and hear that you both are doing better.
It’s scary. It’s no doubt scary. I’ve had family members impacted by it and I think that one of the things that you said to me is, “Don’t be scared, seek help if you’re in a situation where you need it.”
What is your advice to other Americans who might find themselves in a position similar to yours? Having lived through it, what do you want them to know?
Muench: Have a plan. This thing’s going to spread. I hope nobody else gets it, but it’s a pandemic. So it’s very obvious that it’s going to slowly effect—whether they’re asymptomatic or you get the full COVID-19 like I did or my wife did. Have a plan.
And we’re both in our 60s. So we weren’t able to bounce back as quickly as someone in their 20s or 30s, although those people are having issues themselves.
But if you’re alone, make sure you have someone that you think could come in and help you because there was a time where my wife couldn’t hold a cup of coffee, and thus, she’s not going to be able to take [her pills]. People can’t take pills and fix meals and all that kind of stuff and take care of themselves. So have a plan.
And I’m not trying to scare anybody. I’m just saying it would really help to know that if you can’t move, you can barely roll over in bed, that a loved one or a friend or someone that’s capable of doing this can come in your house and help you.
As far as the medications are concerned, I want to say I was fortunate enough because I had pneumonia to get these Cadillac drugs … remdesivir and the Decadron. My wife wasn’t. So there’s an example where one spouse got it, got better quickly, and the other spouse didn’t qualify.
So I know the hydroxychloroquine, there’s a lot of people not sure what they think about it. And a lot of people, because it has Trump’s fingerprint on it, are probably not going to even consider it.
But in the long run, I would say if you can find a conservative doctor that will prescribe it for you, if, unfortunately, you need it, by all means, don’t wait a second—get it.
Now, there are doctors on the internet—and it’s no different than any other e-visit that we’ve all done in the last year—and they will make a diagnosis over the internet. And if you qualify, they’ll send you the prescription. So what I’m saying here, and I’m not trying to scare anybody, Rob, but have a plan.
Bluey: I think it’s so important to have a plan. And now the story began, obviously, with you and your wife taking care of your grandchild. How has it impacted your family? And obviously, we’re in a time when families are getting together for the holidays. And so what’s it been like for the family to support you throughout this?
Muench: A lot of WhatsApp, a lot of Zoom. I wouldn’t let anyone I know or love anywhere near my house right now. Right now, we’re fine and we’re past the point where there’s no more germs. But I wouldn’t let anybody I know near the house.
A couple of relatives have been kind enough to drop something off on the porch and that’s fine. So we’re trying to keep it as dichotic as we [can].
As far as Christmas, all the ornaments and everything in the basement won’t come be coming up this year. We’ve got one little plant that we put out. So Thanksgiving was pretty much zilch and Christmas is pretty much just going to be just happy to be together.
Bluey: Yes, I certainly understand. Thank you so much for sharing that.
As I promised at the top of the interview, I did want to give you an opportunity to talk about something else that is a bond that you and I have dating back now over four years, and that’s social media. You are a prolific user of social media to get the good news out, to spread the conservative message to an audience that you grew organically.
And I think it’s really frustrating for me to see individuals like you face challenges of censorship from platforms like Facebook, when in fact, as a retired accountant, you’re certainly not a powerful politician or somebody who has the means to go toe to toe with Mark Zuckerberg in a congressional hearing.
Can you share some of the challenges that you faced and you continue to face with social media?
Muench: Sure, sure. The first thing, even though I put President Trump at the top of the mountain and halfway up the mountain and I’m down in the trenches with all the patriotic Americans, is that I look at it and I compare …
I’ve put about 12,000 hours into the 2016 and 2020 election. It’s a lot of hours, but that’s what it’s taking to get him to the finish line. And I look at it as just a big old towing chain.
If someone’s going to tow your car out of a rut, I’m just one of those chains, Rob. I’m just one little chain and that’s it. That’s how I see myself. But if you take that chain and these other people I deal with around our country and around the world and you link all those chains together, you can pull a car out of a ditch and that’s what it’s had to take.
And as far as social media, before Trump won in 2016, the social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—were pretty much like the wild, Wild West. They didn’t see a Trump victory coming so they really didn’t have too much of an eye on us. And we just had a heyday trying to push our narrative of the truth and the real news. …
The reason I’m bringing this up is, when I’ve had a good meme, a good post, a typical post would be maybe a 70,000 reach, which is not bad. But on a real good post on a given day, I could get half a million to a million people reach, which is pretty good. And so the run-up to 2016, we were pretty wide open.
As soon as he won, we’re talking [within] hours, there was a stranglehold put on us that you wouldn’t believe and there are times now where a reach of 200 or 300 people is a big day. Every once in a while, I can get one through if the key thing’s on a good meme, or if it’s topical, it’s a point of the day, very clean and clever, people like funny things. So we try to make them funny.
And then the other part is the groups. Obviously, there’s many, many, many liberal and conservative groups. So the more we can share these with, the better chance that they’ll share them and they’ll share them and things like that.
So what we’ve seen since 2016 is just an elaborate—I don’t know how to put this because I got to be careful because these guys like to … deactivate accounts. But I brought in the fact-checkers and I think I was part of that, talking to that attorney.
Bluey: As were we at The Daily Signal. We know all too well about that.
Muench: OK. So the fact-checkers, you just have to deal with them. My favorite label they put on is “out of context.” And I’m thinking to myself, “Out of context is what the internet is. Nothing is really for real on the internet.”
They have all kinds of little labels they like and I think they feel that the labels will slow somebody down or maybe keep them from clicking on the post to look at it.
Most people nowadays, even the comments, I had one this morning, or Facebook slapped a label on it about all their election results and predictions and all that. … And so people leave a comment, “Come on, Facebook. Come on, Instagram, or whoever.” But that’s the cards we’re dealt with, Rob. And so I try not to complain about it too much.
I just try to make things more clever. I’ve created probably over 12,000 memes in that six-year period and I’ve made tons of friends. Rob, there are so many incredible patriotic people in the United States that I work with. I just can’t sing their praises enough.
Not only that, there are people around the world that I stay in contact with—U.K., South Africa, South America, Australia. And the crazy thing is they know more about our political system than I do. It’s incredible.
And there was a lady from Australia. … She would post, because of the time difference, she saw I was asleep all night. And I said to her, I said, “Why? Why are you doing this?” And she said, “Al,” she goes, “the way the United States goes is the way the world goes.” And I said, “OK, well, that’s great.”
We have a great system and I’m seeing more ghosting now than I used to see. I used to see most ghosting on Twitter, but now I’m seeing it with that CEO you met, and I can post to several groups and look hours later and see no comments or notifications from any of those groups and I know that I posted to them. So be that as it may.
I run into things like that. And it’s just kind of crazy. So we’re just dealing the best we can.
The nice part was that I watched on November 3rd the elections that night, and I saw that President Trump won, which was great, which made a lot of sense to me. And then the next morning, like 7, 8 a.m., and I don’t know if it was Michigan or I don’t know which swing state it was, but I’m sitting down in front of my computer and I see Trump’s ahead 30,000 votes, which is thin, but he’s ahead.
I get up and go to get some coffee. I’m not gone five minutes and I come back and Trump’s down 10,000 votes and I’m thinking to myself, “Wait a second, it never goes that fast. It’s a little votes here, a little there, regardless of which guy is going to go ahead or drop behind.”
And it reminded me of, and the reason I’m going to bring this up is because we’re going to get into technology just for a second, there was a movie in the ’80s called “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” And the stories about this kid that was one of the first kids in the ’80s to get a PC.
He’s skipping school and his mom was calling to the principal and the principal’s looking online and sees the kid’s missed 10 days of school. Then they flip to the kid at home and he’s showing how he can adjust that amount.
And he changes it and the amount starts going down from 10 to one. And so as this principal is talking to his mom on the phone, that principal sees the number go 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and then freezes at one. And the principal, the look in his eyes, like, “How can this be? This is impossible.”
This is 35 years ago. It was a silly movie, but 35 years later, 2020, that came to my mind. As I watched Trump go from ahead to behind in a certain state and I thought of that movie and I thought, “Wait a second, if a kid can do this in a silly movie in 1985, holy cow, what in the world can technology do?”
Bluey: I can say that we appreciate the work that you’re doing as one of the soldiers out there doing a battle every day with creative content on these social media platforms.
And as we wrap up today, I just want to say how thankful we are to you for sharing your story. I think it’s really insightful to hear from somebody who’s a survivor of COVID and for you to share your advice with other Americans. Hopefully, they can make a plan and be prepared if they do, unfortunately, contract the virus.
We hope that you and your wife enjoy the holiday season here and you’re healthy and you get to spend some quality time with your family.
Muench: I appreciate that. Can I make one shameless plug?
Muench: And I mean this, when people contact me, people that don’t know me, they’ll say, “I want the real news. I want the real news. Where can I get it?” And without a doubt, I just send them [to] dailysignal.com.
And I’m not saying that to puff you up or puff up your staff, but you guys just present the facts without the bias and the rub and all that kind of stuff, and I appreciate that and I appreciate being a small part of it.
Thanks, Rob. Merry Christmas.
Rob Bluey – www.dailysignal.com