You're definitely in the right place. This forum literally saved my life when I was looking into whether or not to proceed with the surgery. My problem was uncontrollable asthma, due to (not that much) reflux, irritating my lungs.
My family and asthma docs were certain the reflux was causing my problem. I was even hospitalized at one time for GERD caused asthma.
I researched the surgery procedure extensively on the internet (as most of us do) and found lots of people like your friend. "Don't do it! It ruined my life!", etc. It scared me to death.
When I found this website, I finally met people who had a more balanced view of the surgery. They'd been there and done that, and had lots of advice as to how to make the recovery easier.
They presented a realistic view of the surgery and its "aftermath". There were even people here who'd had the surgery and were planning a redo--still with a positive attitude. The surgery is not something to take lightly, but neither are the physical problems that bring us to it.
I wish I'd found the website four years earlier. I suffered with significant lung damage, but wasn't getting much support from my GI docs, as my problem was not clear-cut. The amount of reflux I was experiencing was small in comparison to many who have had the surgery. However, as my asthma doctor has said, it takes very little to affect the lungs adversely.
I had the surgery in February, 2009. After some time to allow my damaged lungs to heal, they were finally healthy again. I just wish I hadn't waited, because I now have lifelong damage caused by the steroids I was on to keep my lungs open.
I coughed so much after surgery that I did damage to my wrap, and about a year later (after a cold virus and continued severe coughing), I finished off the job, and there is something wrong with the wrap, allowing a little reflux to get through. Because of that, my lungs are reacting. Not nearly as bad as before the surgery, but I don't want to wait for it to get that bad again, and risk sabotaging my surgery.
I'm going through the motions now to figure out just what's going on, so I can get a redo if necessary, and I personally have no doubt that it's in my future.
That said, I am totally happy that I had the surgery. I will have a redo gladly. Do I wish I didn't need either? OF COURSE! But, it is as it is. I accept my situation, because if I don't, I will be miserable. I want to be happy, and acceptance allows that.
I don't know what your friend has experienced, but if your reflux is bad enough to warrant surgery, whatever issues you deal with are worth it.
Do not have this surgery if you're not willing to accept the quirks and changes that it will create in your GI tract. If you think you're going to come out of the surgery just like new...like you were before you struggled with GERD...like you were when you were young and everything was peachy, don't have the surgery.
You will always have differences after the surgery. Everyone is different and their quirks vary. However everyone has some GI quirks caused by the surgery.
Quirks can be handled. Quirks are all you'll get if you get your surgery done by a top-notch, experienced surgeon (the experience must be in THIS procedure). People who go to surgeons who are not qualified, or haven't had enough experience with doing Nissens, will have more than quirks. Those are the ones we hear about who are devastated by their result, and say "don't do it!".
The recovery wasn't nearly as difficult as I'd expected. You'll have swallowing problems in the beginning...what do you expect? You've had a major revision to your upper GI tract. There is a period of healing that will involve a variety of symptoms (again, varying from person to person)--so don't go in thinking you'll come out perfect. That's unrealistic.
In the end, though, you'll be relieved of the reflux you've been suffering with.
Educate yourself. Ask questions here. Choose an outstanding surgeon.
We're glad you've joined us! You'll find experienced people here who can help you from a patient's perspective.
If you're ready to go into the surgery with realistic expectations, go for it! With all the problems, I'm very glad I had the surgery, and will have a redo if I need it without hesitation. Is the surgery perfect? No. How could it be? They are gerryrigging a valve out of your stomach! But it's been around for over 50 years, so it is definitely helping people. It's considered the "gold standard" for treating reflux.