I think it's a hairy situation and at the very least you just learned what backups are for
What I would do would be taking a linux live cd and try making a bytecopy of the disk using dd, and then play around with that to try and recover the data using the usual software.
You can get yourself a linux livecd and not install anything. You should probably seek help if you're not an expert. You can actually do the same under windows: get yourself the dd utility here: http://www.chrysocome.net/dd
and get an image of the disk. You obviously need free space on your hard drive at least as big as the drive you want to image, since you'll make an exact byte-per-byte copy of the dying drive.