1. Having one lone account and it being the admin is asking for trouble. I'll skip explaining why and ask you create another admin capable account and try it there.
2. Normal.dot is recreated when word doesn't find one.
BUT THAT'S A GREAT CLUE!!! A REALLY BIG ONE. When I see this happen I head to where that was and I take ownership or add this user to have rights and proper permissions to that FOLDER. I know, I know, who wants to learn that?
3. The fact it affects all the other apps points to folder permission issues or the old "my account is the administrator account" issue. Without that spare account we all stand back and watch the user's machine burst into flames.