Dear BMcD; take a breath!, you're with friends now. You are in the same position I was in over a year ago; some of the dx was different, but the need for the surgery was the same and all I had heard, and read lead me to think that I was heading for a huge mistake.
What you will hear from everyone here is honest, good advice and great shoulders to lean on; listen to everyone and take this information to heart. While each of us is different, our journeys are still very much the same.
First, this is no small surgery and just because they can do it laproscopically, doesn't diminish the magnitude of the surgery. It is a rough recovery, simpler it seems for younger people, but older ones like me can get through it fine too.
The MOST important thing is to find the best surgeon you can; this cannot and should not be a general surgeon, but a thoracic, or specialized surgeon who has done hundreds of these surgeries. Do not be afraid to ask the surgeon this question, how many of these have you performed? The surgeon, or your GI, should be scheduling several specialized tests as well, including, but not limited to: barium swallow, impedance manometry, 24 hr ph or a Bravo; all of these, while not the most pleasant to go through, provide tremendous amounts of information to the surgeon and your Dr. If they don't schedule these or don't require these, ask them why!
Most excellent surgeons have a set of protocols that they want their patients to meet, including weight restrictions, the healthier the weight the better the outcome. For me, the surgery made a tremendous difference in my quality of life; my biggest problem was pulmonary and the constant aspirating of acid was damaging my lungs and, in fact has caused permanent damage to my lungs. I also had severe erosions, a small hole in my esophagus, the LES of course had failed, my vocal chords, damaged, sinus problems, constant hoarseness, throat clearing, heartburn, regurgitation..all the normal stuff, but very little chest pain.
The surgery changed all of these things. Is it perfect, no, but it's the best thing we have to combat it; all of this, however is contingent upon having the best surgeon you can possibly get, and if that means traveling for that person, so be it.
You will hear from the others and we will help you through the process and the recovery. Your first and best step was finding us; not meaning to sound all this and that, but what I had read before and on different forums, scared me! People here are supportive and real and will stand by you!
So welcome to the group!