"I knew about it since I was younger, so it wasn't like a surprise," Thomas explained earlier this week after completing a workout at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. "I didn't know I was going to have to have (surgery) then. But it's just one of those things. It's like what are you going to do? They said it was a good time to come in and correct it , and so that's what they did."
While it's not everyday an active professional athlete is forced to undergo heart surgery, Thomas learned there were other members of the NBA family who had endured similar surgeries. As time progressed, Thomas discovered Ronny Turiaf formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers, now with the Golden State Warriors and former players Fred Hoiberg and Robert "Tractor" Traylor would serve as great resources and were willing to support him through his ordeal.
"Everybody's (surgery) was different," Thomas said. "I talked to all those guys right before my surgery and afterwards. Everybody had something a little bit different, but it was still kind of like a fraternity. We still talk. I congratulated Ronny Turiaf after his contract, and he checks on me to see how I'm doing. He tells me different things that he went through. Fred Hoiberg's (surgery) was a lot more complicated. 'Tractor' Traylor, I talk to him a lot, too. It's kind of like a little fraternity.
"Those guys definitely helped me a lot. I was really thankful for all of them for taking the time out to talk with me because they didn't have to."
Thomas, a man who has never shied away from a cause greater than himself, now relishes the opportunity to provide support to others.
"I've had a lot of different people come to me whether they're in high school, college or middle-aged or whatever, and they're having a similar type of surgery. I've been talking to them in the same way those guys were talking to me because you don't know. Everything that you read about, of course, is usually the worst case scenarios, but it's always good to talk to somebody who has gone through it."
Going through such a serious surgery is one thing. However, getting one's body prepared to play basketball at the NBA level after such a surgery is something entirely different. Initially, Thomas had hoped to return last season, but he soon realized taking a cautious and deliberate approach would serve him better in the long-run.
"I came back here in January just working out and seeing what I can do, but my body just wasn't ready to play last year. So I'm glad I waited and now I'll come back 100-percent."
In order to ensure he returns to the form he enjoyed prior to his surgery, Thomas has been training at IMG Academy with renowned big man coach Clifford Ray who over the years has worked with some of the NBA's best in the pivot.
"I've been working with him every year since I've been in the league," Thomas said. "After missing an entire year last year for my surgery it's just really great work. He gets right after it. He's old school. The way he pushes me, I would always like to workout with him."
In addition to working with Ray, Thomas is making a concerted effort to take advantage of IMG's multi-systemic approach to training in hopes of once again hitting his stride in the NBA.
"There is so much here at these facilities at IMG. You have everything you need and it's centralized. You come out here and go lift weights, get your treatment, go eat some lunch and they have healthy food for you. You can get in the Jacuzzi, get a massage and come back and work again. Everything is right here for you, and that's why it's a really good environment if you really want to get your work in."
With his heart surgery now behind him, Thomas has set his sights on helping the Wizards become a championship contender. For that to happen, though, it will be imperative for Washington to stay healthy.
"We haven't had everybody healthy for a full season in I don't know how long. It's kind of hard to really judge us until you get everybody healthy. I think everybody's going to be healthy next year, and they'll get to see the real Wizards then.
"We definitely have a lot to prove, everyone individually and as a team. Everybody's working hard. I've seen Gilbert (Arenas) in there working hard on his knee. Antawn (Jamison) is working hard and Caron (Butler). Everyone's working hard and just ready to go. We're looking forward to it."
After all Thomas has been through in the last year, it's easy to understand why he is looking forward to playing basketball once again with his Wizards teammates.