Posted 5/13/2011 7:25 PM (GMT -6)
Welcome to Healing Well! It sounds like you're a perfect candidate for the surgery. Don't let your regular doc discourage you. Yes, there are some failures, but most are due to surgeons who are not sufficiently experienced in the Nissen procedure. Unlike some surgeries, the Nissen is a bit of an art form, and it takes lots and lots of experience. If you're in a larger city, your surgeon should have done at least over 1,000. Smaller cities...300+. The more the better.
I also had uncontrolled asthma due to reflux. I had been on PPI's for about 15 years, starting with Pilosec 20mg once a day, moving to twice a day, then 40mg twice a day, then 40mg Nexium twice a day, then 30mg Protonix twice a day...and on and on!
I found this forum at just about the time you are...I was sick and tired of being sick, and my family doc and asthma docs both thought I should have the surgery. My lungs were out of control, and I was on very high doses of steroids to keep them functional. I was trying to find the courage to have the surgery my docs thought would clear my lungs.
I had atypical symptoms...my reflux wasn't all that bad, but it was enough to create a dangerous lung condition. The GI doc was the one who wasn't excited about referring me for surgery. He dragged his feet for 4 years, and finally, told me I could "either continue with meds, or go talk to the surgeon." I chose talk to the surgeon, since the meds weren't doing the trick for me.
Once I saw the surgeon, I brought my husband back with me the next week, and scheduled surgery 3 weeks later. People here at the forum provided me with excellent and helpful information, as well as caring support.
There are so many negative posts on the internet, it can be scary to go forward with the surgery...if I hadn't found this forum, I don't know what I would have done.
That said, I don't think I could have gone on much longer with the condition my lungs were in.
They couldn't find a good time to do the surgery, as my lungs were so involved they were always bad. I had a lung infection before, during, and after the surgery. I coughed my way through recovery. I had been on so many steroids I had to have a burst of steroids for the surgery, as I had adrenal insufficiency. I was a mess.
The surgeon wasn't sure that the surgery would help me, but he said, "if the asthma is being caused by reflux, it will solve your problem."
I had the surgery in February 2009, and although it took extra time for my lungs to heal, by the 2 and a half month mark I was finally able to breathe again! I was no longer needing the nebulizer daily, and was not on prednosone. In addition I was able to reduce my inhaled steroids for the first time in years.
Is the surgery perfect? No. Since my lungs are very reactive, I still take a 40mg Protonix before dinner, and 150mg Ranitidine at bedtime as a precaution. My wrap is pretty loose, and although I don't feel any reflux, It would only take a tiny spray to cause problems. I was one who had a "normal" DeMeester score...14 when I had the surgery. Therefore "normal"--what they go for with the surgery, may not be enough for me. I'd rather be safe than sorry.
I can eat very normally now. I did lose 20 pounds, but once my eating regained normalcy, I gained that back. If you wanted to keep it off, you'd just want to keep eating smaller portions, and never go back to eating larger amounts.
My wrap has a few quirks...when I chug water I can feel it gathering at the wrap, then draining in. Salad and raw veggies (though I love them) can cause my wrap to be irritated if I eat a lot. I still do at times, but suffer the next day.
If you have the surgery your upper GI tract will be revised, so there will be some changes to the way things work. It's nothing you can't handle, especially after what you've been through.
I coughed so much during the healing stage I thought for sure I'd coughed my wrap out, but somehow it stayed together! My asthma/allergy doc wanted me to check my wrap recently, to rule out problems I was having with my lungs (due to allergy). I had a complete evaluation, and everything was perfect. Like you, reflux is not the only cause of my lung problems. The tree pollen this time of year is a killer for me, and I have to take major precautions--wash my hair before going to bed, change clothes immediately upon entering the house, etc. etc. What a pain!
Good luck with your decision! If you're anywhere near as bad as I was before my surgery, I don't see how you have a choice...that's how I felt. I couldn't go on that way, and if it worked, great! If it didn't, then I could rule out reflux as the cause of my horrible lungs. Thankfully, it worked. I am 100% better!