Thanks to a post I made on my online gathering grounds, the Forestry Forum, some tech savvy individual suggested I try a firewire boot using someone else's computer's operating system to run my hard drive. I went over to Alison's house with a newly purchased firewire and did what the guy suggested, and sure enough, I was able to access my hard drive.
I can't tell you how relieved I am! I transferred my documents and my photos to my portable hard drive, which I plugged into Alison's computer, and later in the week I'm going to go back to her place and transfer all the rest. I'm very relieved, to say the least!