One of the things that I find most frustrating about being married to a doctor is the inability to plan even a minor engagement without considering a possible back-up plan or being prepared for disappointment.
Example: Getting a simple haircut. I have a haircut scheduled for tomorrow at 7:15 pm. As long as my husband gets home by 7:00 I can make it there in time. At this point he doesn't know how long his cases will run, that is something he will only be able to determine tomorrow when they actually get started.
Best case scenario: The case starts on time, no complications, and quick move from recovery. My haircut will go as planned.
Worst case scenario: The case will be late, there will be complications, and the patient will take forever in recovery to come to. My haircut will have to be rescheduled, or at the last minute I will have to find someone to sit with my kids and put them to bed.
May not seem like a huge problem, but this is the current example. It could be a haircut, a book club meeting in the evening, an invitation to dinner with friends. Committing to anything is nearly impossible. Our responses always go something like "if we can make it we will". I do not like operating in the "if" world, so often the response is "no" so I don't spend the day thinking something will happen only to have it fall through. It has happened frequently enough that it seems to be the rule and no longer the exception.
There are not many people that I feel comfortable calling on a moments notice to do me a favor, with the exception of family, but that isn't a reality because they live in another state. Even if you could give some advance warning, like a day or two, there is no guarantee that you would actually need them when the time comes. By some chance (and it has happened, too) the doctor gets home in time and the friend who was going to do you a favor no longer is needed and the kids are upset and her kids are upset. And I feel terrible because she blocked out that time and could have planned something else.
I'm sure we could get an on-call babysitter for a fee, but they don't pay residents enough to subscribe to that luxury. In the end we do what we always do: hope for the best, and learn to deal with disappointment. I am fairly certain many of our friends have just given up on inviting us to do anything, we are never available.