Putting his best foot forward

Podiatrist: Dr. Loyd T. Bowser Jr. could have chosen another field. But he picked one that lets him help the people in his community.

October 20, 2001|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

He's about to leave his patient's home (yes, some doctors still make house calls), but first Dr. Lloyd T. Bowser Jr. wants to stop and contemplate his foot.

Not his own foot, of course. A plastic model that the Baltimore podiatrist takes with him to help answer patients' questions and explain his diagnoses.

"The foot," he announces, "really is a biomechanical wonder."

Now he's ready to go, on his way out the door, but there's another pause. There is something he wants to know.

"Are those greens you got cooking?"

It's not the usual parting question from a doctor. But in many ways, Lloyd Bowser is something of an individualist.

He's a foot doctor whose specialties include sports medicine, biomechanics, diabetic care, foot surgery and ankle rehabilitation. He's a Baltimore native who graduated from Walbrook High School, was accepted at New York's Juilliard School for performing arts but chose a career in medicine instead. In his North Charles Street office, he treats athletes from the ultra-fit to weekend warriors. Outside the office, on days like this one, he visits elderly diabetic patients in their homes, to make sure they are getting the care they are entitled to. But more on that later.

These days, thanks to all the people training for today's inaugural Baltimore Marathon, Bowser, 32, is particularly busy.

"You name it: shin splints, plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome," he says, rattling off some of the most common running injuries being seen in his office lately. "There's an increase of people participating in the sport of running, not just for marathons."

Bowser knows that from more than the blisters and bunions he sees in his office: He's become a runner himself.

The doctor, who is also a body builder, once logged all of his miles on the StairMaster at his gym. But six months ago, he started taking to the streets, training to run the first Baltimore Marathon.

"It's a sport you can do by yourself, or with other people," he says in explaining a marathon's appeal. "You get a chance to see Baltimore neighborhoods up close, and you get an endorphin surge. Plus, I'm a competitive person."

Like many in today's marathon, his goal is simply to finish - and finish healthy.

An outgoing personality

Bowser, who grew up the middle son of three boys in the Morgan Park section of Baltimore, has always been competitive while still attracting loads of friends, says his father, Lloyd Bowser Sr. Even his patients, once over the surprise of such a young-looking doctor, seem to have nothing but praise after getting to know him.

"He is the best podiatrist I have seen," says Serena G. Mills-Thorington, one of Bowser's patients. "He listens to people. A lot of doctors don't do that."

His father isn't surprised by such sentiments.

"He was always a very people-oriented person, very outgoing. He was loved by all of his peers," even as a child, the senior Bowser says. Take, for instance, Lloyd Jr.'s very first day of school.

"Our front yard was loaded with children who wanted to walk with him to school," Lloyd Sr. says. Later on, when their son planned a high school graduation party, a celebration for 80 close friends turned into an extravaganza for 200.

Social skills aside, all the Bowser children were also exceptional students. The oldest son, Lydell, is an electrical engineer; the youngest, Lester, is a doctor and an Army major.

"They take after their mother, who is an R.N. and a Ph.D.," jokes the father, a retired manager and department head for the federal government.

Bowser's initial interest in medicine came after working at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center as a "gofer" while in high school. Then for a few summers, he and his brother, Lester, worked in the laboratories at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Bowser quickly determined that lab research wasn't a good fit with his outgoing personality. "Working in labs, there were no people involved," he recalls. "It was so boring."

Later, while in college at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a friend who had already decided to become a podiatrist talked to Bowser about it, and he found the field appealing.

"In podiatry, you deal with dermatology, radiology. You do surgery. You can specialize in sports medicine," he explains. "And, usually, someone with a toenail problem can wait until Monday. So I can have a family and a life."

As far as family, for now it's just Bowser and his wife, Neeta Kataria, an attorney. They don't have children yet but plan to someday.

Routine house calls

One of Bowser's big concerns is the work he does with diabetic patients, especially the elderly ones. To them, he is "The Foot Dr. On Wheels."

Bowser, or one of his associates, will do a home visit with diabetic patients to treat and fit them with custom therapeutic shoes that help prevent complications from the disease.

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