Welcome to the GERD forum! I had the Nissen surgery in February 2009. I had it because the reflux I had was causing uncontrolled asthma. I avoided the surgery for about four years, during which time my asthma and family doctors encouraged me to consider it. They weren't able to control my asthma because acid was refluxing into my lungs and keeping them in a state of inflammation.
I was afraid of the surgery, as I'd read all kinds of scary posts online when I researched it. In the end I didn't really have a choice. I was in bad shape, and my lung condition was life threatening.
I thought the recovery would horrific and that I wouldn't be able to eat for months. I was afraid that the surgeon would do damage and make my condition worse. In the end, I found this forum and talked to others here who had experienced the surgery. They were very encouraging, realistic, and positive about the results.
I wish I'd had it done sooner. The recovery is not anything like I expected. I was on liquids for the one day I was in the hospital, then on soft food until Day 5 when I saw my surgeon. After that I was able to eat anything at all that could be chewed to a liquid.
The recovery is challenging in the early weeks, but not as bad as some of the GERD/reflux episodes I'd had before the surgery. Once you get past the swelling, things go very well. It is very "doable" though...very little pain...yes you can get gas pains in your shoulder, but if you get up and walk regularly, that will be alleviated. My nurse in the hospital the first night said to get up and walk whenever I went to the bathroom, which I did. I walked at home, too. I found that the amount of shoulder pain was increased when I didn't walk, and went away when I did.
The main thing you need to do, should you decide to go forward with surgery, is to select a highly skilled surgeon who has done many successful Nissen Fundoplication surgeries. I heard the number 300+. I went to a teaching hospital, and made my surgeon promise that he would be the one to do the surgery, not his resident. He said the resident had to help, but he would do the actual surgery. I was fine with that.
If you're considering surgery, you should have a
24 hr PH monitor
Maybe a stomach emptying test to ensure you don't have a motility problem
If you truly need the surgery, go for it, but do so with your eyes wide open. Surgery should never be taken lightly. However, if you need it, you have no need to worry, as long as you have a talented and experienced surgeon doing the work.
Good luck with your decision. If you have any other questions, ask away!