I spent some time going over the information you have posted and for the most part I think that by far the “best” advice I could provide would be to reiterate that you need to be working directly with Bob which would be the primary and possibly only resource for information and guidance I would be using. Forums and “theory at a distance” are not a good place to deal with issues that have the level of complexity that your situation has and you situation requires more detailed and nuanced voice communication. Since he has also been working with you in person, has had the chance to see you on the mattress, and knows more about his mattresses and designs than anyone else, he is in a much better position to provide the kind of guidance that would be most helpful to you.
Some of the changes you have been making on your own are also confusing to me and I don’t know the reasoning behind them. I would avoid changes in layering that were based more on trial and error or on your own ideas or speculation about what may work that didn’t have a clear and accurate understanding, reason and logic behind them.
It is also be important to recognize that with the health challenges you are facing along with weight issues that compound them that a mattress won’t solve medical issues and the symptoms they create but can only be part of a larger or perhaps partial solution. In other words … it’s unlikely that there will be a perfect or “ideal” solution when it comes to a mattress for you. With the changeable nature of your symptoms and Fibromyalgia in general compounded with weight issues … you may find that one solution works well temporarily but when symptoms flare up or go through the normal fibromyalgia cycles or something changes in the short term or longer term, then the solution that was working well may not work as well any longer. The goal in other words is “best possible” because when there are medical issues involved then “ideal” for all circumstances may not exist and it’s important that your expectations for a mattress and its effect on your symptoms are realistic.
If a mattress provides neutral alignment in all your sleeping positions and you still have pain then something else is the cause behind the pain whether it is temporary or longer term. This becomes an issue for a health care provider rather than a mattress.
You have also gone from one extreme end of the scale (softest possible) to the opposite end of the scale (a brick) and because of your complex situation none of these have been ideal.
So the goal is “best possible” and for this you need more extended voice communication and suggestions along with more detailed and “nuanced” feedback that can “rate” one combination against the others so that it is more clear which one is “better” overall than the others. “Rating” them all only in terms of “I still have symptoms” without clear information and specific feedback about how each combination “ranks” in terms of the others doesn’t provide the kind of feedback that can use each combination as a “pointer” to the best possible solution … as imperfect as it may be.
Some general comments …
In general terms … primary support comes from the deeper layers and in most cases it would be counterproductive to put the firmest possible layers on the top of the mattress. they belong in the middle or lower layers. You now have firmer bottom layers that you can build on.
Secondary support comes from the thickness and firmness of the middle and top layers which “fill in the gaps” in your sleeping profile in all your sleeping positions and help maintain the best possible “neutral alignment” in the inward curves of the body in all your sleeping positions. You have several options as far as what to use here on top of the new firmer core.
Pressure relief also comes from the upper layers which contour to the body shape and form the pressure relieving cradle and re-distribute weight along the surface of the body to relieve the pressure points. You also have several options about what you can use here on top of the new firmer core.
Making changes in the right layers, for the right reasons, in the right order, and with enough time in between each combination is an important part of successful fine tuning or design changes. Making changes that don’t have good odds of success only “confuses” the situation … and your body … because the body also needs time to “catch up” to any changes you are making. Slow incremental steps where you have enough time to evaluate each step relative to the others and that has a well thought out plan behind them is the most likely path to success.
The goal is always to “balance” support with alignment (which are conflicting because one “allows” sinking in and the other one “stops” sinking in) and to make the changes that are the most likely to be helpful with the specific symptoms you are experiencing. You won’t improve primary support for example by making the top layers firmer. It’s also very important to take a very slow step by step approach and make sure you sleep on each combination for long enough that your experience is more indicative of the variations in your longer term experience with fibromyalgia symptoms compounded by weight (which can change or cycle over time regardless of your mattress and would be happening on any mattress) rather than just a short term indication of how it feels for a few days. It’s also important to provide the best possible feedback about each combination because if the feedback only says “this is the same as that one” and doesn’t include where and how each one was different from the others in relative “better or worse” terms instead of “good and bad” terms then it doesn’t provide a clear indication of whether a certain combination is moving in the right direction.
So you are now “in effect” at the beginning of a new beginning and working on variations of your second mattress with a firmer support layer.
The first mattress was focused towards “soft” in all the layers and creating the most pressure relieving mattress that could keep you in good alignment (sinking in evenly) in all your sleeping positions. This combination put pressure relief as a primary factor over all the others. These were all variations on the same “theme” of “soft” to better accommodate your preferences and what you believed were your primary “needs” at the time to help with the pressure and joint issues and sensitivities that are typical of fibromyalgia.
You are only now beginning the process of designing your “second” mattress which is more focused towards “firmer support” … at least in the deeper layers … so that you can test variations around firmer support and possibly transition layers. This would be more suitable for your weight if fibromyalgia was not a compounding factor and has better odds of relieving back and alignment issues than any combination that is built on top of a 32 ILD core. In other words … I would treat all variations on a 40 ILD base layer as a new beginning because it will affect everything else that goes on top of it (rather than thinking of this as a continuation of what you were working with before which was all based on a 32 ILD base layer).
I would also keep in mind that not only your spine but your joints as well need to be in neutral alignment and sometimes alignment issues can “masquerade” as pressure issues if the joints are hyperextended from their “neutral” position (such as the hips) and with the inflammation that can go with fibromyalgia this can be a real issue.
I would also consider using pillows under the knees on your back and between the knees on your side to help with neutral alignment.
So now you have firmer layers to work with in the support layer of the mattress and in effect are starting all over again with a different design that has better odds of success given your experiences.
The 40 ILD is designed to go on the bottom with softer transition and comfort layers on top. I would not use these firmer support layers anywhere but on the bottom and then build on top of them.
Beyond these … you have many options from your previous combinations that you can use in your middle transition layers and top layers and between all the zoned and unzoned options you have available you will have the chance to decide which of the combinations on your “second mattress” is the best possible outcome of all the new options available to you.
Even after reading all your combinations I still don’t have a clear idea of which combination was the “best”, second best, and third best … and why. This is the type of “relative” information that would be most helpful to help Bob help you most effectively.
You are fortunate that he is close enough to you that he has been able to deliver all the replacement layers, see you on the mattress, and talk with you in person, and I would take full advantage of his expertise rather than confusing the issue with “advice” coming from multiple directions. Again … I would treat your new firmer layers as a new beginning of a new design which provides firmer support layers (40 ILD on the bottom) and then begin to work towards the combinations on top of this that have the best chance of success using his help and guidance. I would avoid more “random” changes without discussing them with him first.
So to reiterate my suggestions in point form …
- Work closely with Bob on the phone (not email) to the exclusion of any other specific advice.
- Put the 6" 40 ILD core on the bottom and keep it there and build on top of it as if you were starting from the beginning again (which you are with what is in effect your “second” mattress)
- Give each combination at least a week and preferably longer so that you have better odds of evaluating how it will work in the longer term as your “normal” fibromyalgia symptoms change and cycle.
- Don’t use any combination that you haven’t discussed first with Bob (on the phone and not with email) as this will only confuse the issue.
- Focus on describing your specific symptoms when you talk with Bob and avoid speculating about (or trying) possible layering combinations other than the ones that he suggests or you have specifically discussed.
- Make sure you “rate” or “rank” each combination relative to the others in terms of “better or worse” and in terms of your experience of pressure relief and alignment issues rather than just rating them as “good or bad” without reference to each other.
If you take this slowly and step by step and begin to test the brand new combinations that your new core layers make possible (zoned and unzoned) then you will have the best possible odds of success. You really are in good and knowledgeable hands … and it’s really a matter of doing what you do best (reporting and ranking your experience on each new combination without any speculation) and letting them do what they do best which is suggesting the next combinations in the process that can lead to the best possible outcome.