I found the solution... can't remember where... but basically, pull thermostat off of the wall, on the back, pull out the cover and the zwave board module... push that all th eway in. Turns out, it gets loose, or always was loose. This solved the problem.
To answer the question above, yes, it still worked as a normal thermostat when I had the zwave issues.
Mine is a 2Gig and the last month or so, about every couple of weeks, the thermostat disconnects with similar results. Seems to coincide with messing with Vera and testing things (working the thermostat too much?). Resetting the thermostat reconnects it when I Configure the Node. I have not tried to reset the z-wave card. Next time it disconnects, I'll try that.
Vera 3, UI7 1.7.919, CT30 thermostat, Everspring motion detector, GE/Jasco switch, Leviton outlet, Vision door sensor, Insteon garage control, Blue Iris, Sricam SP011, iPhone locator, APCUPSD, VeraMate, VeraAlerts, PLEG, House Modes, Countdown Timer, DVR, Virtual & Multi Switch, Weather, System Mon.