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    Andy Garcia Puts Family First

    Marriage and family may be his top priority, but the actor and director still manages to find time to grow as an artist and practice the hot Hollywood fitness trend Pilates.

    From Athlete to Actor

    Garcia tells WebMD that a nasty case of mononucleosis he picked up as a junior set him back. While most teens who get mono recover within a month or so, Garcia says, "I got derailed. I couldn't exercise for close to six months."

    According to Jeffrey Cohen, MD, head of the Medical Virology section of the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases at the NIH, Garcia's having to take a break from regular activities is a common occurrence among teenagers and young adults who have mono in high school or college, although extreme and prolonged fatigue is rare. Kids infected during childhood often have no symptoms, but adolescents and young adults more commonly do. These include fatigue, fever, headaches, rashes, and an overall sense of not feeling well. By the time students get to college, about 50% to 75% of them have been infected with Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes about 95% of all mono cases, Cohen says.

    Symptoms of mono, which is spread by infected saliva, can last two to four weeks, Cohen says, and fatigue is often the last symptom to go away. Uncommonly, fatigue can last several months. He adds that high school athletes who contract mono, like Garcia did, do have to take a break from competition. Some kids are "sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day, and it can last a month."

    For Garcia, his bout with mono set him on a new course: He started taking acting classes.

    Future Direction

    Even with the box-office blockbuster Ocean's Thirteen playing in theaters nationwide this summer, Garcia is thinking as much about producing as acting. Next on his docket is a film based on an original screenplay, written and directed by Raymond De Felitta. CityIsland (named for a small island in the Bronx) is about a dysfunctional family. Garcia says his production company, CineSon Productions, is working on financing the project -- a process that he knows firsthand can be grueling and long.

    "For The Lost City [about a Havana family during the Cuban Revolution], development to production took 16 years," he says. "I could have done it sooner, but I couldn't get anyone to support it. But when we did, we were ready. We prepped it in four weeks and shot in 35 days. Sometimes it takes a long time to get a break, but when the door opens, you need to go in."

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