21 In Women Now

Women Now: Finding the giggle and the fashion in a paramedic experience

Debra in Mugettes store

Having fun with Debra in Muguette Renee Boutique in Napa


One married couple and one sort of married couple visit Muguette Renee at her charming Paris-inspired brick and mortar store at 1409 Second Street in Napa, CA in June. After the initial enthusiastic reunion (they all know each other) the guys patiently stroll about the girly shop and chat with each other. It doesn’t take long before the store fills up with giggles, like high-school-girl giggling. Like pee-in-the-pants type giggling. What’s got them busted up, wiping tears, and snorting? Personal recollections of what flashed through the minds of each grown woman when paramedics showed up at the house. Young. Handsome. Congenial. Strong paramedics. Like finalists in the Mr. Paramedic Pageant; those kind of paramedics.

I was there. I’ll tell you all about it!

The giggle factory: Mugette Renee Boutique in Napa

You all first met Muguette (rhymes with baguette) when she had a candle cart at the Oxbow Market in Napa. She so impressed me that I wrote about her in Anatomy of a Business: Matching Passion to a Product. She is entrepreneurial, fiercely feminine, and ultra creative. You see it in all aspects of her products and presentation. She puts thought into every detail. In a short amount time she left Oxbow Market and was on to her next endeavor, her own store in Napa, CA, Muguette Renee Boutique. [Here’s her Facebook page.]


Lingerie choices on BrendaKinsel.com

“If I have a seizure tonight, how do I look?”


John and Debra and Russ and I were having a fun-filled day together on a Saturday in June. It was a few days before my birthday and John and Debra invited us to have lunch at Hog Island Oyster Company in Oxbow Market in Napa. They are owners of the Hog Island restaurants (Napa, San Francisco, Marshall and more on the way) and the farms where they grow the oysters. We never say no to a Hog Island invitation or time with friends. Besides, it was an outing and Debra hadn’t had lots of outings since her grand mal seizure on April 26th. (Yeah, a big one, like in the movies. More about that later).


Lingerie at Muguette Renee Boutique

“How about this one?”


After lunch we walked down to her store. We were all seeing it for the first time. Muguette was showing us all her great things: shawls, jewelry, lingerie, pretty tops, handbags, pillows, gifts with French music playing in the background. There was a lot to take in! Debra gravitated to the lingerie corner. I knew why!

It was so scary at the beginning

I remember April 26th when I got the call from Debra. It was in the morning, early.

I’m in the hospital.

You’re in the hospital?

I had a seizure.

You had a seizure?

Yeah, when I woke up these handsome paramedics were looking down at me and I didn’t know how they got there. I was in the worst pajamas. Here, John will tell you about it.

John didn’t go into details about her pajamas, but he did tell me she’d had a grand mal seizure right in front of him at 4:30 in the morning. He was helping her stay awake for an epilepsy test she was scheduled to take that morning. Odd things had been going on, like moments of deja vu. Her doctor first had her do an MRI (great news, no masses seen anywhere) and then wanted to follow that up with the epilepsy test. (Turns out the sleep deprivation needed to get the best results from the epilepsy test could have brought on the grand mal seizure).

John told me how she was looking at him and then she fell to the floor in a seizure. He called the paramedics. When Debra came to she was looking at John but he said, “It was like nothing was in there.”

The first memory she had was of the four paramedics looking at her on the floor. She wondered what they were doing there. She doesn’t have any memory of the seizure.


Debra in hospital

Visiting Debra in the hospital after her seizure


I visited her in the hospital. Her brain was a bit scattered. She had initial short term memory loss and a lot of confusion but the memory she never lost was of what she was wearing when she first set eyes on all the eyes that were looking down at her in her house.

So when we saw the lingerie in Muguette’s Boutique, I saw an opportunity to be helpful. “Debra, you could build your lingerie wardrobe so the next time the paramedics come you’ll be ready!” She didn’t miss a bit. She held up one pretty lace and chiffon piece and said, “Okay, if I have a seizure tonight, how do I look?” Silliness took over. Debra decided it was only fair to let Muguette in on the paramedic story. She told Muguette, “I had the worst pajamas on. I was embarrassed about how I was dressed: mismatched top and bottom. Now I’m looking better when I go to bed.” Everyone has that moment when they realize they need better lingerie! Debra’s was just the most dramatic one I’ve heard yet!


Debra at Muguette Renee Boutique

Everyone had a paramedic story!


Then Muguette had a paramedic story to share. There was  a family gathering when one of her sisters got sick, bad. As soon as the paramedics arrived, the other sisters started fighting about who was going to ride along in the ambulance. One said, “I’m the hostess! I’m responsible! I should get to ride with her!” Another one was reaching for her lipstick to freshen up her lips. I forgot to ask, but I’m sure the sister was okay. Or Muguette would have told us, right?

I had to share my weaker story about paramedics flooding my bedroom. It was back in 2004 when I was going through chemotherapy. My friend Cheryl was visiting that weekend. I had a moment of dizziness in the living room and passed out just a little. “We should call the paramedics,” Cheryl said. “No, no, no,” I said. Then about a half-hour later it happened again, only this time I was in the bathroom. Now both Cheryl and Russ said, “We’re calling 9-1-1.” Geez Louise, what’s the fuss, I thought.

I was in my bedroom when they came through the door like a cavalry. I couldn’t count them all. They seemed to fill up the whole room. They were so good-looking! Suddenly I thought, Why was I making such a big deal about calling the paramedics? This was great! After a few hours at the emergency room, the ER doctor concurred with my assessment: it was nothing. “When you feel dizzy, put your head between your legs,” he said and sent me home.

The fact that we all had a response to the paramedics shows us one thing: we all had a pulse. And that’s a good thing.

Checking out the paramedics in broad daylight

Not long after Debra’s incident she and John went to the Lagunitas Fire Department, just down from their house, where the paramedics responded from. John and Debra came bearing Hog Island T-shirts and Hog Gift Cards for each of them. There was a whole lot of gratitude in that fire station!


Debra and John together in hard times

Debra and John faced sudden, scary times


We still have a few laughs over that day in Napa with the lingerie. It was a relief to Debra to have enough distance from the trauma of it all to get some good belly laughs out of it all. The concerns haven’t gone away. Treatment is still a work in progress but gosh, it’s good to laugh!


Muguette Renee Boutique

Laughing it up at Muguette’s boutique in Napa


A Debra update

Debra’s on anti-seizure meds, maybe for the rest of her life. They’ve been tinkering around to find the right meds to help her feel more like her true self again. She can’t drive for three months or if they change the drugs or the dose of what she’s on, that will add three more months before she’s driving. That’s a tough pill to swallow along with the others she’s swallowing. But all eyes are on the prize: that she has good health, quality of life, and no reason to look great in what she wears at night other than it’s what pleases her.

This week Debra’s in New York City with her family. We’ve been texting each day. She shared with me this photo of her wearing the top she bought at Muguette’s boutique as she strolls her 6-month-old grandson, Levi, through Soho. I’m keeping her abreast of the miserable cold I’ve had. I had to tell her she was on my mind when this weekend. At the worst of it and running a fever, Russ thought of running me to the ER a couple of times. He got scared. We didn’t do that and I’m okay but based on Debra’s recent experience I did think about her and wondered if I should prepare. In my head I was saying, ‘What would Debra wear?’

It’ll be our joke forever!


Debra and Levi in Soho

Debra and baby Levi in Soho this week


PS: Debra told me every time she wears this T-shirt she gets twenty compliments! Compliments are healing too!

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  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 3:30 am

    What would we do without our friends to giggle with. Glad all is going well with Debra, but do take care of you. We love to hear of your adventures, especially when they turn out well. Tuck in for some healing yourself. On the other note, good advice for all of us to update our lingerie, you just never know, and besides, it makes us feel great too. Your outfit look cute peeking out in the picture.

    • Reply
      July 20, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Thanks, Diane. Yes, believe me, when I was having my What Would Debra Do moment, I didn’t cringe or anything, but I did make a mental note to add to my nighttime wardrobe! For a whole host of reasons!

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    July 20, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Bonjour à tous!
    What a delight to be inside the giggle via this heartfelt post. We’ve all been there– being horrified while needing to simply give up to the moment. Thankfully humor can transport us and heal. The internal warning of what mother might say about when you wear ugly or worn-out undergarments, “What if you had an accident and…”. Who knew that the fear is undeniably universal. Muguette Renee Boutique looks fabulous. Thanks for the tip! You all look great and playful.

    Brenda, this post is another Top 20 Hit for me that transports and delights. Keep writing and sharing. We need you. I need your voice. Please take some regular time for the Slow Club so that you refresh and reboot. I’ll try to do the same since I’m not fully ready sleepwear-wise, for a paramedic visit.

    • Reply
      July 20, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Katherine, I always love your point of view. Yes, “horrified while needing to simply give up to the moment.” How many versions of that do we get in a lifetime: LOTS! The subject of “panties” will be on your screen soon. You’re teasing right into that upcoming post!

      Top 20! Delighted! And yes, the Slow Club. Refreshing, rebooting, always lessons to learn there! Thanks for being you!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 10:24 am

    “Mr. Paramedic Pageant!” YES!!!! That’s what we need. Maybe a doubleheader with “Mr. Fire Engine Hanger-Offer!”

    Y’all are so much fine.

    • Reply
      July 20, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Glad you got a giggle…and the picture in your mind of those pageants!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I had on very, very little when I past out in the hallway at 2am on Christmas morning while visiting our son and family. Thankfully, hubby was able to maneuver some long warm pants on me while laying prone on the floor before those handsome 1st responders arrived. Thanks for sharing this humorous account with us. I will certainly remember Debra’s remark for future reference. So glad she is doing well.

    • Reply
      July 21, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      That is so vivid! Bless your husband for thinking fast! I’ll take this one step further–you have to be sure your closet is well edited so a loved one doesn’t grab something that would make you cringe when you come to, like all those things stuffed in the back on one’s closet!! No, just kidding. Thanks for sharing, Libby. Glad things worked out!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Great post! I wear some pretty strange things when I sleep, mostly because my body thermostat is broken and has been for years. I’m going to have to rethink what works and how I look in it after reading this post. Thanks for the laughs

    • Reply
      July 21, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      You bet! Motivation to get rid of the “strange things”, right?

  • Reply
    July 21, 2017 at 1:52 am

    Just been reading your old post about January, and wanted you to know that your mother made a lovely daughter

    • Reply
      July 21, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Oh Mary, that brings tears to my eyes. I’ve been missing her so much this week. And thank you!

  • Reply
    Diane dSG
    July 21, 2017 at 5:33 am

    So my paramedic story did not have me looking my best either! It was in 2012 on a Saturday morning. I had a bicycle accident and severely broke my left ankle. I had just finished a 25 mile ride in Texas heat so I was wearing the spandex kit and very sweaty! The pain was unbearable and the firemen and paramedics were on the ground surrounding me trying to get me stabilized for the ambulance ride. I looked at them and said “this is not how I pictured myself in my firemen fantasy”! They all chuckled and one said “if you can joke with us knowing how much pain you are in, you are one tough lady and my hero”. That made me feel a little better!

    • Reply
      July 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      I’m chuckling too, Diane! That is funny! You were “light on your feet” with that one even with a busted ankle. Oh dear. I love what they said to you! Maybe you can work it into your next firemen fantasy!

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 8:24 am

    As a newcomer to your block go, I am worked ng my way, somewhat haphazardly through your back posts.. I’d love it if you could put them together into an anthology. Any thoughts on this?

    • Reply
      July 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I’d love more of your thoughts on this. I’ve been thinking about how to group posts or publish an anthology. What were you thinking it would look like?

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I meant ‘your blogs, not ‘your block go’ !

    • Reply
      July 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I figured that out! don’t you just love when your keyboard thinks it knows what it’s doing but it doesn’t?

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    August 7, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Well, given that I sleep in the nude, I should have nice sheets on hand to wrap me in 😉

  • Reply
    Camille - Paisley Grace Boutique
    October 26, 2017 at 8:52 am

    LOVE these stories! I have often wondered what I will be found wearing if I am unconscious somewhere. Especially in my home when I am in ratty t-shirts, sweats, etc. When I drive the kids to school in PJs, I say a silent prayer…”Lord, let this NOT be the day I get pulled over!” Thanks for the laughs and reminders to ALWAYS look my best. 🙂

    • Reply
      October 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      Glad you enjoyed those stories! They still make me giggle.

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