YES! Your story has remarkable similarities to mine. I've had asthma my whole life (generally well controlled), but during the past four or five years or so, it got uncontrollable. My family and asthma docs were both confident that my reflux was making my asthma worse. They sent me to the GI doc. (I'd actually be hospitalized at one point when I was having a severe GI reaction to an antibiotic and it revved up my reflux and asthma. I wasn't responding to prednosone or my nebulizer treatments, so my asthma doc put me in the hospital for a week.)
Anyway, my first GI doc thought I was crazy and didn't help at all--his group was on the job when I was hospitalized, and did nothing to help me through it. I got sick of my GI doc's attitude, and fired him.
My family doc recommended a new one, who did some tests and determined that my reflux was much too mild to be influencing my asthma. My allergy/asthma doc and family doc didn't concur.
My asthma was terrible. I was nebulizing several times a day, on high doses of inhaled steroids, and intermittent use of prednosone. The use of these steroids caused me to get adrenal insufficiency, and I began bruising very easily. Also, my skin became extremely fragile (like that of a 90 year old). Although the adrenal insufficiency has resolved, the thinned/bruising skin continues to haunt me. I wish I'd had the surgery years earlier--before my steroid use left me with what is a disability--it takes NOTHING to cause my skin to tear, and I'm covered with steri strips and band-aids constantly.
Finally, my doctor threw his hands up, and bypassed the GI doc--sending me directly to a surgeon. The surgeon did an endoscopy (somewhat open LES) and barium swallow (revealed a hiatus hernia), and trusting my doctor's recommendation told me that I was a good candidate for surgery.
I then took this information back to my GI doc, and he retested me with a 24hr PH monitor (similar to the BRAVO). That revealed a number of 14, which is very average--not generally a reason to go forward with surgery. My GI doc, however, had decided to factor in my asthma and family doc's opinions, and said he'd refer me to a surgeon if I'd like to talk to him.
At this point, I was like you--there was really no other option. I had to give it a try. If it didn't work, then at least I could rule out reflux and look in another direction for relief. My family doc had said that my problem was life-threatening and needed to be attended to. I just wish I'd been braver and moved on surgery sooner.
I had the surgery in February 2009. When I had it I was in the midst of a lung infection. I was also on fairly high doses of steroids. I had to have a steroid boost during the surgery because of the adrenal insufficiency. After the surgery, I coughed my guts out for two months. I was worried sick that I was coughing out the stitches. My surgeon said that my internal tissue was extremely fragile and that he'd put in some extra stitches to hold it.
Anyway, by mid May, my lungs began to improve. It was AMAZING. I was in the midst of my worst pollen season, and even with that, my lungs improved. (During the years prior to surgery, even prednosone didn't relieve the wheezing and coughing any more.) My lungs have been much, much better since surgery. Even when I've had colds, they haven't been as severe on my lungs as they were pre-surgery. I guess the reflux had my lungs so inflamed all the time that anything (allergies, viruses, etc.) that added to that inflammation put my lungs over the edge.
I think you're making the right decision. My surgeon didn't think my reflux was bad enough, and was kind of worried. He, too, considered the recommendations of all my docs and my history, and decided that it was worth at try. He didn't make any promises, but did say that the surgery would probably help my lungs, and that they would continue to improve throughout the first year (which they have).
My quality of life and health have been tremendously improved. If need be, I'd have a redo surgery without hesitation.
People with asthma and reflux are at a huge disadvantage. I think you're definitely doing the right thing. Be thankful you're catching it before your fragile skin torments you daily. Any time I lightly hit my arms, I get a big skin tear. I have to be sure I have steri-strips and bandages wherever I go!
I hope you'll stay here at the forum and keep us informed as to your progress. I posted my recovery on the forum. If you search "dencha" you'll probably find my posts.
Be sure that your surgeon is extremely experienced in doing Nissens, since your surgeon is the most important variable in the surgery's potential success. An excellent surgeon can keep you from having a multitude of possible side effect, and ensure that your surgery works well.
Be sure to educate yourself about what to expect with the surgery recovery.
Please post questions you have! We'll be happy to do our best to answer them and provide information for you.
Best wishes with your surgery, and happy breathing!