In our book, we do not go against the conventional wisdom that FDR's medical records were destroyed by Ross Mcintire. If this was the case, though, we firmly believe it was done to honor the expressed wishes of the most powerful and charismatic man of the twentieth century rather than to cover any alleged incompetence of his physicians.
In fact, the bulk of the medical records that do exist document the only incident, in our mind, that Ross McIntire was indeed asleep at the wheel, permitting FDR's hemoglobin to fall to the nearly fatal level of 4.5 grams in May 1941 (America was perilously close to President Henry Wallace at that time). So I ask, if Ross Mcintire didn't destroy those records to cover his real mistake, why would he later destroy records to cover himself?
One possible reason they weren't destroyed is that Eleanor already knew about it, as witnessed by her strikingly specific letter to Anna at the time the problem occurred (so much for the myth that she didn't care about "physiology"). She would never have even found out that much if FDR didn't tell her himself, most likely because neither he nor his doctors actually knew the reason why it occurred and didn't feel it was related to the deadly secret (though it most likely was- to our thinking, induced as consequence of the radiation he received).
The story of the famous safe at the hospital, and who had access to it, is well known, as per Howard Bruenn's version (the only one anybody ever quotes, as per the 1970 "gospel"). The story is in the book, but we are still unclear as to why the records that McIntire supplied to Eleanor were only the selected ones we have examined.
As an opposing view, there is a strong case to be made that the records were not destoyed. The prime evidence here is FOIA file DFI-1259, obtained by Ken Crispell and Carlos Gomez for their 1985 book "Hidden Illness in the White House" (see p. 254).
Ken Crispell has died and Carlos Gomez (currently a hospice physicisn in the Washington, D.C. area) has no idea where the original document is. The document, dated November 17, 1981, from the chief legal officer of the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda states unquivocally that FDR was a patient there 29 times and lists all the known aliases FDR was treated under!
Considerable efforts to locate the legal officer have not met with success. Many of the aliases on the document correspond to those on existing records, but others do not, and some documents have names that are not on the list, most notably F. David Rolph, that appears on nearly all the documents from the time of the anemia in 1941 (though close names, like Rolph Frank, for which we have no records, are on the list).
The obvious question: Where did the chief legal officer get the information from? There is only one answer- the allegedly "lost" medical file.
More corroboration for the exisistence comes from numerous conversations with a physician who was at Walter Reed in the late 1970's. The physician wishes to remain anonymous, but, trust me, he/she, who we shall call Dr. X, exists and appears credible.
As the story goes, Dr. X was nosing around the hospital at the time working on another project (prune bellies, to be exact) and came across a VIP file that intrigued them. It had various reports and x-rays, some of which were photocopies, with different names though all with the same accession number! This immediately aroused Dr. X's suspicion that they were those of FDR. Upon further inspection, they appeared to be of someone who was being treated for, among other things, a urological malignancy.
Included in these records was a retograde pyelogram (see "John Cash" in the previous post) showing an abnormality of the left kidney (ibid). Also noted incidentally was a severe metastatic lesion eroding the L3 vertebral body and that the level was somewhat difficult to surmise due to the presence of a "transitional vertebra".
Aside from the fact a the metastatic lesion of the spine would be quite consistent with either melanoma or prostate cancer, it provides an alternative explanation for the severe pain FDR was experiencing at Bremerton, Washington in August 1944 and even moreso for the incident described by son James at his fourth inauguration in January 1945.
If one looks at the John Cash letter, Dr Reuter also describes an anomaly of the left kidney and "six lumbar vertebrae" another term for a transitional vertebra, a fairly rare developmental anomaly of the spine. Therefore, either this is one of the greatest coincidences in medical history, or Dr. X was looking at FDR's x-rays!
The alternative take to Howard Bruenn's story is that the records do indeed exist and are not destroyed, but presently lost under one of FDR's many assumed names or no name at all. If they are anywhere, they are in St. Louis at the national records center (That's where all documents older than 10 years wind up these days).
When thinking about the whereabouts of FDR's medical records, I envision the last scene from George Lucas' great film "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
The records are right next to the holy grail!!!!