After a tense few days, I am happy to report that all is well with my computer.
The problems I was having were caused by a dying hard drive. I took my machine to the "doctor" and after a bit of testing, he determined that the hard drive was the culprit and would have to be replaced.
That was good news/not so good news, but I was happy that we at least could move forward now in fixing the computer.
I was not totally lax in backing up my computer, but I think it could have been a month since I did it.
Here's the REALLY good news: since the drive hadn't totally failed, he was able to retrieve EVERYTHING that was on the old hard drive!!
So, I've spent time reinstalling my Norton and Malwarebytes and trying to get the machine back to how I like it(font size, wallpaper, etc) but I'm feeling a whole lot better today! (I can't believe how much I missed my computer; you forget how dependent we are on this piece of electronics!)
Thanks for everyone's help in trying to solve my problem!
The answer is....chocolate! Who cares what the question is.....