Patti Blagojevich slept in her own bed last night for the first time in almost a month.
Her husband, fallen Gov. Rod Blagojevich, joined his two daughters, Annie and Amy, and his sister-in-law, Deb Mell, in greeting the jungle queen at O'Hare Airport just after midnight Thursday. There were hugs all around, and Patti told gathered media that she enjoyed her time in Costa Rica, but was glad to be home.
She said she looks forward to spending time with her kids and her "main squeeze." When asked what comes next, she said that she's simply planning on spending time at home, and that the weekend will include lots of snuggle time on the couch.
She walked away with several new friends, including former basketball player John Salley, former pro wrestler Torrie Wilson, and actor and the series' winner, Lou Diamond Phillips.
She also walked away significantly lighter; she reportedly lost 12 pounds during her three-week stay.
Despite finishing the show as a loser, she said in an interview on WLS Radio’s “Don Wade and Roma Morning Show” Thursday that the show was “a really welcome break” that she didn’t even realize she needed.
"I went there to help our family financially, but you know, to be able to actually help dispell some of the misinformation that was out there about Rod and I, is a tremendous benefit," she said.
Patti admitted, also, that the competition provided a distraction from her worries at home.
"It was nice to go down there and meet people that didn't have an agenda with me, that became my friends and it helped restore my faith in people," she said, according to the Tribune.
And while her participation on the show could have been an awful, humiliating experience, it looks as though Illinois' former first lady will return home stronger and friendlier, though she admits that she found her co-contestants to be a bit more "Hollywood" than her midwestern roots.
"There was a doctor that was off-site that would come down and take care of any medical needs we had. Some of the celebrities, I mean, they're taking, they're all extremely stressed being in the jungle. I mean, they needed their Xanax, and they needed their Ambien to go to sleep. And I thought to myself, 'They think this is stressful?' This is not stressful. This is vacation."
The former first lady of Illinois' image on the show was far different from the foul-mouthed political wife she's been presented as in recent months. She came across to many as a plainspoken, levelheaded mom. Week after week, viewers voted to keep her in the show, and she outlasted celebrities like Holly Montag and Daniel Baldwin.
"I was totally flattered by the votes I received," she said.
Her family reportedly recorded all of the show's episodes, and Patti said she'll watch them after a good night's sleep and a big meal of ribs.
She says she'll now focus on reuniting with her family. She said being apart from them was the hardest part of her jungle gig.
Now back at home, the real reality returns. The trial date for her husband's federal corruption case had been set, and the recent revelation that two top aides -- John Harris and Lon Monk -- are expected to plead guilty next month brings the point home.