In the meanwhile, the latest update on hard drive news is that, yes, it's indeed completely, utterly dead.
But I still managed, after a good two weeks of complicated work that involved some truly crazy black magic, to recover about every file that mattered. I'm not done reviewing all the files to make sure they're sound and good, but so far, and despite the bitterly amusing amount of things that went wrong in the meanwhile, everything looks fine. Holy poodle on a tricycle.
If people are interested, I might write a post on how I went about it, in case others may have use of it.
Other than that, I'm in a sort of thoughtful mood these last few days, which I may go into later on if I get around to it; but someone -- you know who you are ♥ -- kindly called me an "emotional millionaire" this evening, which makes me feel warm and fluttery inside and I'll go to bed happy. :)