Welcome to Healing Well! This was the place that provided me with the commonsense wisdom and encouragement that I needed when, like you, I was faced with the need to have the Nissen Fundoplication surgery. The people who helped me through the pre and post op stages had experienced the surgery first-hand, and knew what to expect and how to handle the inconveniences.
I had the surgery in February 2009 because my reflux was making my asthma uncontrollable. It was a four year struggle to get to the surgery, and the GI doc and surgeon weren't giving me any promises that the surgery would work for me, since my symptoms were "atypical". I figured I had to have the surgery, and if it didn't work, then we could rule out GERD as a cause.
Long story short, I had the surgery under adverse conditions--my lungs were infected, and I was on high doses of steroids. It took two and a half months for my lungs to heal, but heal they did, and my lung health has been much better since surgery.
I had researched the surgery and recovery thoroughly, and was really ready for whatever challenges it presented me with. I knew the surgery wasn't a choice for me...that I had to have it. Therefore, I was willing to accept the post surgical recovery--whatever that entailed, and would deal with whatever changes the surgery created in my GI tract.
I guess because I was ready for the worst, I thought the recovery was much easier than I had planned. Sure the first weeks are a challenge, as things need to heal and the swelling needs to reduce, but really, for me it was far less difficult than some of the GERD episodes that had burned my esophagus in the past.
The incisions are a piece of cake. I only had one that bothered me, and keep in mind, I was coughing the entire recovery, which didn't help. Your wrap becomes increasingly swollen and peaks at week 2, so your swallowing will get worse before it gets better.
I was lucky, because my surgeon had a very liberal philosophy regarding food. I was on liquids while I was hospitalized the first day, then went on soft foods until I saw my surgeon on Day 5. He told me to stay away from steak and bread (actually toast is fine), and eat anything I could chew to a liquid. That meant small bites, and chew, chew, chew. You won't be able to eat much volume for a while, as your stomach is swollen and feels full quickly.
Kitt is right...you need to play it by ear regarding going back to work. Your idea of starting with half days is a great one. I planned on going back half days after two weeks, but in my case the asthma/lung infection kept me home longer.
Don't worry about the surgery. I'm sure you've carefully chosen your surgeon, which is the most important factor of all. A surgeon should be extremely skilled and experienced in the Nissen procedure, since it's a very specific tricky repair. The quality of your surgery is the main predictor of a positive outcome.
Really, if you can accept the recovery as it is, and have patience, you'll do fine. If you fight the recovery and want it to be something it isn't, you'll struggle. Let your recovery lead the way, and you'll do just fine. You'll be amazed at how you'll progress. It is important, though, to have a full understanding of the fact that yes, you will be inconvenienced by this major revision of your upper GI tract. Your outsides will heal before your insides, so don't overdo.
At four months, I went on a vacation and ate totally normally. It will happen, but it comes gradually. You'll do just fine. If you have any additional questions or concerns, ask away.
We're here to support and cheer you on!