I thought we should start a new thread on this topic, since it's getting lost in other threads. It sounds like you have lots of questions, so this is a thread that will allow you to post your questions and ideas. I answered your post at the Allergy Asthma forum as well, but that post is also buried in an old thread.
Hopefully others who are interested in this information will find this new, updated thread helpful.
I've been incredibly busy with my job recently, and haven't been able to post regularly. This forum saved my life (I think literally), as my asthma was totally out of control before I finally had the courage to get the Nissen in February 2009. I waited far too long to get the surgery, even though my family and asthma doctors both pushed me in that direction for a long time. This forum was the only place I ever found where people were realistic, but positive about the surgery. The fine people here supported me though the decision, surgery, and recovery.
My asthma was terrible for about four years before the surgery. By the last year, I was using my nebulizer several times EVERY day. Also, I was on way too much inhaled steroids along with intermittent oral prednosone. Not good. In the end I began having adrenal insufficiency due to the steroid usage. You're right--asthma meds aren't particularly good for us. It's fine in reasonable dosages, but high dosages are a danger. I actually am now suffering with a very difficult side effect of the steroids--my skin is extremely thin and fragile...If I just hit my leg or arm on something, my skin tears. I also bruise incredibly easily.
I was frightened by all the really negative posts I saw on the internet. Many people warned against the surgery, and blamed all their problems on it. Also, my GI docs weren't particularly encouraging about having the surgery. I changed GI docs because the first one didn't give me any help at all. My second GI doc sent me for testing, and didn't think my GERD was bad enough to cause my asthma. At the same time, my asthma and family docs (who know me the best) were certain that it was the cause of my asthma dive.
Finally, my family doc just gave up--he and my asthma doc said that they couldn't do any more for me. I was nebulizing, taking peak doses of inhaled steroids (and Serevent), coughing up gallons of gunk constantly, wheezing, and just feeling terrible. My doc made me an appointment with a surgeon. I went to him, had another endoscopy and barium swallow, and the surgeon (who took the opinion of my family doc seriously) recommended the surgery.
I then went back to the GI doc, and had him look at the test results. He added another 24 hr PH monitor, and decided that although the results were borderline, I might benefit from the surgery. He said I could go to a surgeon he recommended highly if I'd like. I did decide to go...I just couldn't stand living that way anymore. Also, my doc said that my GERD/asthma was life threatening.
I had a lung infection when I had the surgery, and afterwards as well. My lungs were in terrible shape, and it took a while for them to heal post surgery. By May, during peak allergy season, my lungs suddenly improved, and I no longer needed my nebulizer and lung PT. Yay!
Now, I do have allergic asthma, but NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING like the GERD. I never need my nebulizer (knock wood), and am in control with normal doses of meds. My docs hope that if they can get my allergies in better control, I will be able to lower my meds further.
I have a bad cold right now, and I'm coughing and have really bad sinus problems due to the virus. Even with that, I'm not taking anything extra other than Albuterol before my inhalers, so I'm sure I cough up the gunk before taking my Serevent and steroid inhaler. I'm breathing fine (now if the cold lasts a long long time, there's no guarantee that my asthma won't kick in but what a difference compared to pre-surgery. I would have been nebulizing and wheezing like mad.
I would be more than happy to discuss the asthma/GERD surgery issue with you. I will try to get on the forum as much as possible to check posts.
Bill mentioned the posts about the Nissen recovery. I'll try to find the URLs and post them for you.
I was ready for a horrible recovery, but it wasn't horrible at all. I am so thankful that I had the surgery. It's not perfect--I have some side effects that will be with me for life--but in comparison to what I suffered with before surgery, they're so worth dealing with! I would have the surgery again in a minute if something happened to this one. I'm so thankful that my asthma doc and family doc kept nudging me until I finally found this forum and made the decision to go forward with the Nissen.
Good luck making your decision. Feel free to ask any additional questions!