I feel your pain, John. BTDTBTSTSBTSM!
Two suggestions, actually: first, if you can't get Office to work, rather than upgrading or paying for a reinstall, I'd suggest downloading Open Office. It's free, and it not only reads, but saves as MS Office files. And it has a built-in PDF converter.
Second, buy an external hard-drive backup. It works seamlessly and effortlessly, and you'll be able to restore everything from it if necessary.