I don't think you lost your files. You just can't open them for some unclear reason.
Start with deleting all occurrences of normal.dot you find on your machine, and try again. If the problem persists even without the presence of an old normal.dot, post again with full and exact error message.
Just updated ms office from word 2000 to 2003. When i try open any of my word documents Word says the document is unavailable. when i close word, a message comes up saying the file normal.dot already exists do i wish to save it?? i then click cancel and try to close word again but this time theres a message saying 'changes have been made that affect the global template, Normal.dot, do you wish to save?'
Are my files lost?