GringoPost | Ecuador: Recommendation for Dr Carlos Palacios, medicine, with warnings about Huntsman spiders

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Recommendation for Dr Carlos Palacios, medicine, with warnings about Huntsman spiders

About two weeks ago, while I was sleeping, I was bitten on the back of my head by a spider. It felt like a high-powered staple gun had been fired into my scalp. The only creature here that can do that is a very large, incredibly fast arachnid, locally called a "banana spider," otherwise known as a Huntsman. They do not build nests, but hunt beetles by shooting venom into their shells. And into people.

I live in a very old casa patrimonial in El Centro. The doors to the central patio are warped and do not shut correctly, and because the air is so lovely here, away from the street, I keep the windows open most of the time. I have seen these giant things inside my shower curtain, on the outside of windows, and on the walls. I am not very good at killing anything, so I use a plastic take-out cup that I fastened onto an old broomstick to usher them outside. So perhaps I was asking for it.

Most people are not as sensitive to this kind of venom as I was. I didn't pay too much attention to it at first, but after four or five days, I could tell that the place on my head was infected, and that the infection was growing, probably via the lymph nodes near the bite. I also felt very woozy.

I finally called Dr Carlos Palacios, whom I have consulted for almost two years. He is in his mid-20s, and quite the best doctor I have ever known. Initially I presented with a couple of long-standing illnesses that I had thought I just had to live with. Immediately he suggested two medical treatments that no one had ever mentioned to me before. To my surprise, both conditions got better.

He examined my head, and said that it was a puncture wound that had closed. He prescribed a course of a very strong antibiotic (also weirdly used for rheumatoid arthritis), which I took, even though I felt ill from it. He also ran some blood tests to be sure there was no anemia that might have been making me so fatigued. The tests showed no problem.

I am well, after ten kind of crummy days. I will not likely change my attitude about breathing fresh air, being close to the sky, and hearing the birds from the gorgeous garden next door, so these phenomenal creatures may come in again. I will risk being bitten once more, just to live here. (Poison is not an option: I have a cat, who herself will attack anything.)

If you live in Gringolandia, where everything closes properly, you probably needn't worry, at least at home. But in El Centro, in the old neighborhood near Plaza San Sebastian where I live, Huntsman spiders are endemic, in shops, restaurants, and apartments. They are brown or dark tan, very large, two or three inches in diameter, furry, and unbelievably fast. Take care and stay back if you see one: in an open space they are unlikely to attack, because their style is stalking, but they are cheeky, and not afraid of anything. (The custom here is to step on them, but that would be your decision.)

The point of all this is to give my highest recommendation to a fine young doctor here, Dr Carlos Palacios. He speaks English, so there is no worry about communicating if your medical Spanish is not yet humming along. When I left the US, I chose Ecuador over Portugal, because of the much higher reputation of medical doctors and dentists in this country. I have not been disappointed.

Dr Carlos, just a couple of years out of medical school, is one of the main reasons I continue to feel at home here. I trust him implicitly, because he has never been wrong. And about my fairly rare systemic conditions, he's been proactive, and right on the mark, when everyone else (both here and in the States) literally has had nothing to say, or has been profoundly, shockingly wrong. Dr Carlos makes a wonderful change.

Dr Carlos takes insurance, but if you're with IESS, as I am, his prices for office visits are very low, and he makes house calls if need be. He is a real sweetheart, too.

His office is on Remigio Crespo Toral, near Agustin Cueva, right next door to the Pharmacy's Farmacia, across from Banco Pichincha. WhatsApp is probably the best way to reach him, because he also works in hospital clinics. If you prefer email:

I cannot recommend Dr Carlos highly enough, having lived all over the States, in Brazil, and in England. He is brilliant, the best doctor I have ever met.

Address: 2-160 Remigio Crespo Toral y Agustin Cueva, next to Farmácias Pharmacy's and across from Banco Pichincha

Contact information:  098 429 1342

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