I'm writing in because I found a solution to this problem.
I just had this happen on an appellate brief that's due in two days. There had been some other obnoxious glitch earlier (everything turned into symbols that time), so I had been emailing myself as I worked on the next section. Well, I just finished a section and was in the middle of saving, and **************. The immediate shut-down option was not going to work, because it just saved.
Nevertheless, I shut down Word then re-opened the document. For a split second, the text was there before it turned back into asterisks. So I knew the data wasn't lost.
So I decided to open the asterisk-ridden file in another application to see what might happen. I tried Mac Pages first, and IT WORKED!!! All my data is there throughout my most recent save. I'm going to work in Pages until my draft is done then either export it back out or cut and paste back into Word. Got to be careful to save often, though, as Pages doesn't have an autosave feature, last I heard.
I hope this might help you get your files back too.