Become a Web Developer from Scratch by Victor Bastos – Udemy course Review:

Standard bannerAs some of you may know, I’ve been studying a course on Web Development for some time now. With the abundance of free time medical retirement has offered me, I have restarted this course which had been left several months back for reasons of health, work and then no work. It’s called “Become a Web Developer from Scratch” and it’s taught by Victor Bastos. This is my review of the course so far.

“Become a Web Developer from Scratch” Udemy course review:

I’ve, admittedly, only completed one Chapter of this course, but thought I would give a review of how it’s going so far and my thoughts. First, some stats about the course:

  • The course cost $199 (£125/€159).
  • There are 8 sections (or chapters), each of which is a different web development language to learn.
  • The course teaches Basics, Back end development and front end development.
  • There are 233 lectures made up of 37 hours worth of video presentations, PDF’s and code examples
  • No “Death by PowerPoint”. All videos are screencast’s where you watch Victor explain the subject
  • The course is self paced and you can ask questions to the 44000 strong community of learners on the same course.

The entire course is set up of Lectures, one after another, most about 5 to 10 minutes in length. Each video is a different topic about the language you are learning. Victor Bastos, the lecturer, will take you through the examples and explain how each part of the code works together. Examples are given throughout the videos which you are encouraged to try to improve on yourself. The last source code is available to download for each video so you can check your code to his.
Should you run in to any problems, each lecture has its own discussion board, where people can post questions which will either be answered by Victor himself, or other users further along the course than you who may well have come up against the same problem. If there are any major problems, you can message Victor personally who will get back to you ASAP.

As you progress through the section, you learn more and more complex skills of the sections’ language. By the end, you’re ready to put it all together to build a final project. In the first section of XHTML & CSS, you learn how to write a very modern looking website from the ground up. Every aspect of the final project is designed to use all the new skills you have learned in the section.

section 1 final project image

The Final Project for Section 1 is this attractive website with three pages, images, tables, navigation bars and all styled with CSS.

The course is structured as such that you learn the very basics first (XHTML & CSS) and then add to it by increasing the complexity and usability of your skills. In all, you learn ten separate and essential languages to help build modern and dynamic websites:

  1. XHTML & CSS
  2. JavaScript
  3. PHP & MySQL
  4. XML
  5. JSON
  6. AJAX
  7. jQuery
  8. HTML5 & CSS3

Some may wonder why you learn the outdated code first, and the most modern standard last. The explanation from Victor is simple: many websites you see out there today are still coded in older styles of HTML. If you learn the old code first, it makes it easier (and makes more sense) when you learn the new standard of HTML5. Personally, I agree with this. You learn the old (often harder) way first, then find out there’s now an easier way of doing it. Isn’t that always the way?

There is no previous knowledge of coding, HTML, internet or anything to be able to take part in this course. As long as you can handle a browser (which, if you’re reading this, you can) and a text editor, you have the necessary skills to start.

No one is perfect:

Considering this was Victor Bastos’ first ever course teaching through videos, it’s fair to say there are some rough edges here and there. First off, as you may have guessed by the name, Victor is Portuguese, so he is teaching this course in a second language. He has an accent, but speaks very clearly so that nothing he says is a total guess. My main quibble about the course is that unlike some more commercial or professional videos (from other resources such as Treehouse), the lectures to have a feeling of improvisation about them. By this, I mean that Victor will often write out code and then change his mind about what to right and start again. There are the inevitable mind blanks whilst he tries to think of what to type, and, of course, code errors. Hey, no one’s perfect. That being said, the code errors are good, because not only does it give you a chance to spot them before Victor does in the video, but also shows you what little errors in code can throw up, and potentially save you hours of searching for errors in your code down the line.

Personally, I’d like to see the lessons build towards a bigger picture. For example, to be shown the final project at the beginning of the section, so that when Victor cover’s something you can visibly see on the page, he could refer back to it saying “see, this is how we can use tables for these individual text boxes” etc. My final critique is that there are sometimes subjects that Victor will glance over or not explain as clearly as I would like. This is where broader study has to come in. I have read books on the subject alongside the lectures to help reaffirm what was covered or even find things that were missed out. For HTML & CSS, I highly recommend the HTML & CSS book by Jon Duckett, or one of the Head First books by O’Reilly.

Future of the course:

I’ve had this course for nearly two years, and it’s already been refreshed and updated once since then. Victor, along with some of the first students to take the course, are setting up an online training academy called Onclick Academy which is currently in Beta. All the videos are there from the Udemy course, but with some nice updates where user feedback has pointed out improvements. Victor also recently announced that he is working on “Become a Web Developer from Scratch 2.0”, which will be a completely new course with updated lectures and explore other languages for web development.


I may not have finished the entire course yet (I’m only 25% of the way through), but I do find it very useful as base for learning. However, I would recommend that you also read supporting books on each subject which may explain subjects in more detail or new subjects that Victor may have missed out. I also use the W3Schools website to back up the lectures as this is also a good resource for learning and code examples and has lessons on 6 of the 10 languages covered.

If you’re a budding Web Developer in the making (like me) then I would highly recommend this course. For the price, there are few out there to match it with such responsive teachers and such a large community. The course has a promising future too, so it’s not likely to go dead any time soon.

You can find “Become a Web Developer from Scratch” by Victor Bastos on Udemy.


LIPS Trial – First Infusion:


I’m sorry this took so long to write, but you’ll see why at the end of this article.

On May 14th, I attended St Thomas’ Hospital in London for the first of my LIPS Trial infusion (to find out more about this, read my previous blog post). I first met the researcher in the pain clinic where we had first met. After a short wait, I was called through and asked to either take off my trousers, or roll up the legs, whichever was easiest. The researcher – Roy – measured up my leg and made a mark with a permanent marker on both legs. Despite Roy’s best efforts, this was painful, but I soldiered through the pain. He then brought in a plastic box full of warm water and placed it on some scales. I was to put my legs in one at a time and he would be able to weigh them. My right (unaffected) leg was 3.5Kg, whilst my left (effected) leg was 0.19g heavier (3.69Kg). Once I had gently dried off, we made our way to the clinical research ward on the fourth floor of the North wing. Once there, we signed in and I was given a plastic tag with my details to wear round my wrist. We moved into the ward and I selected a bed by the window as it was a nice day.

LIPS Trial Infusion 1 - view out of window

My view from my bed

Once comfortable, The team gathered round and the consultant put in my cannula. Fortunately, the cannula didn’t go in my affected area, so it wasn’t painful.

LIPS Trial infusion 1 - canula and forms

My cannula and some questions I had to fill in.

After everything was checked, the drugs arrived:

LIPS Trial infusion 1 - four boxes worth of drugs

Four boxes of the drug- could either be the Immunoglobulin or the placebo.

I was then hooked up to the machine and the drugs started flowing. One of the researchers – Mariana – stayed in the room with me throughout the trial if anything went wrong. The only side effects that was expected was a metallic taste in my mouth. I felt a little light-headed, but no funny taste in my mouth. Mariana checked my blood pressure and then I was left to my own devices for a while, so I opened my book and started to read.

One hour in, Mariana came to check on me and changed the bottle. The amount of drug used is dependent on weight. My bottles weren’t full to the brim, and lasted about an hour per bottle. In the meantime, I went back to my book.

After lunch, Roy returned and started some of the tests. The first was to measure the temperature of the foot in specific areas. He had a template for the area he would test with six holes in it. This was placed on both my right (control) foot and my left (affected) foot and he used an indelible pen to mark six locations on my feet (I still have the marks on my left leg as I can’t clean them off).

LIPS Trial infusion 1 - testing the temperature of the foot

Roy, measuring the temperature of my foot with a thermometer. In the background, the London Consultant.

Although this is a touch thermometer, Roy tried very hard to make it as light as possible so as not to cause too much pain. What’s interesting is that the affected leg was 1.3 degrees C colder than my other foot. This is a well-known fact for CRPS sufferers in that although it feels like your affected area is on fire, it’s stone cold to the touch. You therefore need to keep the area covered to keep it warm, but you can’t bear the pain of something touching it; it’s a catch 22.

Roy then moved on to other tests. The first was using a very light filament which has varying degree of thickness. The bigger the thickness, the more effort it takes (and therefore pressure it exerts) to bend it. Starting with the thinnest (which looked like a fibre optic filament) he started on my good foot in the same positions he measured the temperature, then moved on to my bad foot. There were four tests with these filaments which I could stop at any time if the pain got too much. The last test was using a paint brush in a sweeping motion on the top of my foot. That was the most painful and peaked my pain score at 10.

LIPS Trial infusion 1 - IV Pole

The IV pole with one bottle draining and one ready.

When the last bottle had drained through my cannula, they re-checked my blood pressure and removed the cannula. I was given my next pain diary and allowed to go home. Roy booked me a Taxi which took us back to the station.

The important question:

So, have I noticed any benefit from the infusion yet? I have certainly noticed that my recovery period has reduced. Usually, it would take me 3-4 days to recover from a trip up to London. In this case, I had one day recovery on the Thursday and by the Friday, I was cleaning up under the bed. Does this mean I had the Immunoglobulin? I can’t tell. The placebo drug curiously also has some pain relieving side effects, so I won’t know till I have had all four infusions sometime mid-summer. Am I encouraged? You bet! I have been able to do more things than usual. I can’t climb stairs or walk long distances yet, but a reduction in the recovery period is certainly encouraging, even if that’s the only benefit I get. Had I had this treatment in the first few months of my CRPS, it could well have solved the problem, but we won’t know. All I can say is that if you have CRPS/RSD and can help take part, do. Even if it doesn’t work for you, it could help prove the point to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to allow this treatment on the NHS, which could potentially save someone else from this rotten illness.

I next return to have my last trial infusion in early June, after which I move on to the voluntary ‘open label’ infusions. I will keep you posted about any developments.

LIPS Trials, 100 days and Work:


As usual, I have to start my blog post with an apology for not having written more. It’s something I keep neglecting and something I strive to improve. If it’s any comfort, I keep forgetting to write my diary too, so when I finally get round to doing it, it takes me ages to do so. As a result, I have three main things I want to write about in this post: LIPS Trials, 100 days and Work.


Starting off with the least pleasant, but something that needs to be said none the less. As of 28th April 2014, I no longer work for the Police. After months of effort and constant communications between myself, my line manager, my Inspector and HR, the inevitable happened and I was retired on grounds of Ill health. It’s something I’ve expected for years now, but this still doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

It was decided towards the end of last year, that my time in the Control Room, where I had worked (health permitting) for the last 3 years, would be at an end. The reason for this was that my constant use of pain medication – needed to keep me out of bed – was clouding my memory and sometimes my judgement, potentially putting officers or members of the public at risk. I never saw (or heard) any of these deficiencies in myself, but I’m glad they were mentioned before anyone was harmed because of me.

The plan was to move me to somewhere closer to home (my daily commute was anywhere between 40 minutes to 90 minutes each way depending on time of day and traffic), and with less stress (which made the pain in my leg worse). Sadly, there is now very little for a civilian to do at my local police station. The closest station where something would have been available was about 30 minutes away (not for from the control room really). We asked the Force Medical Officer if this distance would be ok, but he refused (and as it turned out, longer term, the department I would have joined never moved to that station anyway).

So there you have it. Of course this upsets me, but I understand why it happened. So what is the next step? As you know, I’m learning to become a web developer and coder from home, so I hope to move into that field as and when I can, either freelance, or in a local company.

100 Days:

Whilst on the subject of coding, I have started a new series on Give it 100. If you’re not familiar with the website, it’s a social learning website where you commit to make a 10 second video everyday to show what you are doing/learning. There are many videos of people learning to do everything from learning to play the drums, to becoming a mum. I thought it would be a good motivation exercise to encourage me to continue to code every day. So far, as you can see, I have made several videos and received lots of good supporting comments.

LIPS Trial:

Finally, on to the most important aspect of this post.

If you are a regular follower or friend, you will know I suffer from a disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS (AKA. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD). With the prospect of losing my job because of the illness, my wife thought it would be worth looking if there was any help available to sufferers. Fortunately, she stumbled across a part of the NHS website which had Clinical Trials running. One of them was for CRPS.

LIPS Trial, or  Low-dose Intravenous Immunoglobulin Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, is run by the University of Liverpool, and the study is investigating whether Immunoglobulin (Ig) is an effective treatment for CRPS. There have been some promising first steps, and now this is a wider study to see if the drug is a worthy treatment of this retched disease.

After a bit of persuading, I applied to be on the trial. I was quickly contacted and motions were put in place to have me referred to the study. This week, I made my way to St Thomas’ Hospital in London for my first appointment.

There was much paperwork filing and an assessment by the consultant in charge of the London running of the study. The Consultant was very kind and helpful, explaining that CRPS is an immune disease and that Immunoglobulin is a regular treatment for immune diseases. They were very happy to have me onboard and went ahead taking blood samples to make sure that I was completely suitable and to get a baseline of my Ig levels.

The study has two infusions, which will be double-blind, meaning no one (not even the examiners) will know if I have the Ig or a placebo. After two infusions several weeks apart, the study is over. From the time I’m admitted on the course, I have to keep a pain diary. These will help the researchers define if my pain levels are better or not and if it was because of the Ig or not. After the two double-blind infusions, I’m allowed to ask for the Ig infusion up to twice. These second two infusions are completely my choice, and could help me decide if I was on the placebo, or the real thing. Once the infusions are finished, I continue to complete my diary for a while till the end of the study.

I’m greatly looking forward on taking part in this study, as I would love to see a treatment (or dare I say, cure?) for CRPS be available. Even if it doesn’t do anything for me (I’m at the limit of their diagnoses range, 5 years), I hope that it helps them find something out and help others. However, at the moment, there are only 11 people on the study (although that was unclear if they meant 11 in London, or in total). If you read this, and know someone who has CRPS diagnosed within the last 5 years, I urge them to take part to increase the sample size. Please, share this post and pass it on to anyone you know would be interested. Check out the trial website, which gives you more information and what the criteria is.

Thank you, and stay tuned, as my first infusion is set for 14th May, so I will keep you posted.

Why I chose a Fitbit Flex over other devices on the market:

Fitbit Flex

First of all, I need to offer my apologies: This post was meant to hit the blog just after Christmas. In fact, I thought it had, but a comment on my earlier post about using the Fitbit in my wheelchair showed me I hadn’t. Then, life and illness got in the way, so, sorry.

Secondly, I just want to say how pleased I am that this is grabbing people’s interest. I even had a Paralympic Medalist show interest in my post, which was a great inspiration. I have also had several people reach out to me through the comments section of the earlier post asking for updates and advice. To those people, I say sorry this has taken so long to post and thank you for getting in contact. I will try to answer as many questions as I can and always give you an honest answer.

So, without further ado…

Last month, I wrote an article about buying an activity tracker to help me keep healthy. I thought in this article, I’d outline my reasons about why I chose the Fitbit in particular and how I’ve come to like the online dashboard and phone apps.

Why did I choose the Fitbit Flex?

There are a lot of features advertised on the Fitbit website, as well as some others that aren’t (like having NFC, that wasn’t mentioned anywhere!), so here’s why I chose the Fitbit Flex. Other than the reason that my wife, Lorna, also chose it, that is.

  1. Silent alarms: One of the major pulls towards a fitness tracker was the silent alarm feature. Working shifts, I would often have to wake up very early, and a usual alarm clock wasn’t very sociable in a house with two young boys and a wife. The silent alarms are very good. The Fitbit Flex has a small vibrating motor in it which will buzz when you set it. It’s quite a strong vibration, so it should wake you (unless you’re a really really heavy sleeper). As it happens, I’m no longer working shifts, but the point still stands. The vibration also lets you know when you have passed you daily goal, or when you have correctly set the Flex in/out of sleep mode.
  2. Social Features: Fitbit’s API means that any other website/services can help integrate the Fitbit into their service and vice versa. This means I’m able to integrate my Fitbit in with, the diet logging app I chose to use (yes you can log food on the Fitbit, but more on that later). The other advantage is that Fitbit is so popular, I already had several friends using the Fitbit, so I had people to ‘compete’ against.
  3. Long Battery: It’s true, some other trackers have longer battery life than the Fitbit, but I was happy with the 5-6 days. Most every other day I have a bath anyway, during which I top up the battery of the unit. This is simple enough to do, you just slip the little unit out from the wristband (the unit itself is about an inch long by a quarter-inch wide) and place it in the cradle of the charger. Once the unit is fully charged, all 5 LED’s flash together (and not remain solid like the instructions say). Most of the time, I get roughly 4-6 days use out of one charge, depending on how much I move and how often it synchs to my phone in the background.
  4. Fitbit’s Support: When I was thinking of buying an activity tracker, I searched the internet to see if anyone had done what I’m doing now, writing about using a tracker in wheelchair. I didn’t find one. I sent emails to the three companies at the top of my list: Jawbone, Withings and Fitbit. The only answer I got from Withings was their holding email and nothing else, not a great first impression. Jawbone answered and were very helpful, but couldn’t comment on whether the device would be suitable for use in a wheelchair. Fitbit support, however, were very helpful in saying that it had been used by people in wheelchairs, and whilst he admitted it wasn’t designed with wheelchair users in mind, it would still record steps as if I were walking. They then went on to say that they would be happy to take any feedback towards making it a more friendly wheelchair friendly device.

Day-to-day life with a Fitbit Flex:

I’ve used the Fitbit Flex for over a month now, and I have to say I’m really impressed. The device has taught me a lot about myself and how I move throughout the day. It in fact showed me that I move more than I thought.

I had originally set my daily target (after finding out I could change it, which was a large relief. I didn’t like the idea of being taunted at not reaching 10000 steps each day) to 100 steps. On the first day out of bed, I reached that walking down the corridor to the kitchen, having waved my hand round whilst sitting up in bed. After a bit of trial and error, I actually found that, on average, I would register about 2000 steps a day, which isn’t bad when you consider I mainly walk around the house, getting myself cups of tea and writing at the kitchen table.

This is where I think a distinction has to be made. What the Fitbit Flex records isn’t steps, but activity. When I power my manual wheelchair, I’m using my arms. The Fitbit will record it as steps, but actually, I’m rolling round. The fact is, I’ve moved, and not stay sitting in a chair doing nothing or being pushed round. I think that Nike’s concept of ‘Fuel’ isn’t actually a bad one. Many reviews I read when looking into these trackers said that the Nike Fuel Band was a bad choice because it used a random concept, fuel, and not a quantifiable measurement as a step. In actual fact, for a wrist worn tracker, they probably had the better terminology. To prove my point, the other day, my Fitbit Flex buzzed at me to tell me I had passed my daily activity goal. I was drying my hair at the time.

What ever you call your activity log, when you want to view it, because the Flex has no screen, you can either use the Mobile app (iOS or Android), or you can use the Fitbit Dashboard via their website.

Fitbit Mobile and Web Apps:

First the Apps.

Fitbit Flex, Wheelchair

This is the Android Fitbit app as seen from my Nexus 7.

Both are well laid out and allow you to see all the most important details you want in a list. Tap on each section, and you’re taken to a screen with more detail about the choice.

Fitbit Flex Android App

This is the details screen for the amount of steps taken.

If you press the button at the top right of the graph, the graph rotates 90 degrees to show you a bit more detail of the times and steps taken. What’s frustrating is that it doesn’t do this automatically when you rotate the device, you have to press that icon.

Fitbit Android App3

This shows the horizontal information given, this time in the sleep tab. The dark blue is sleep, the light blue is activity whilst I sleep, and the pink is movement/awake.

Swipe to the left, and you are shown a graph for the distance reached, then calories burned and finally most active minutes. I don’t know what it classes as a most active minute, but needless to say, I don’t reach them often.

You can also see the leaderboard between you and all your Fitbit friends as show below (I have removed their names for privacy):

Fitbit Flex

Fitbit Friends Leaderboard on the Android App. You can add a friend, as long as you know their email address.

Although well implemented, the apps don’t really give you a lot of detail other than being able to your current stats. For better information, you have to head to the Web Dashboard, where you can see all your data with more detailed information. Similar to the apps, you are presented with a range of panels, each displaying their own stats (one for steps, one for calories burnt, one for food etc.) Clicking on the little arrow at the bottom of each panel will take you to another screen with much more information about each and enable you to log extra activity (or even give the activities you have done a title and not just “x amount of steps”).

Fitbit Flex

This is as much as I could fit of the Fitbit online dashboard onto my screen.

The mobile apps are frustratingly simple. They are fine for checking in on your stats to see how you’re doing for the day, but for a proper detailed analysis, you’ll have to go to the Dashboard. Also, on iOS, there is no iPad app, so you have to deal with heavy pixelation to view your stats.

If you thought “I’ll just view the dashboard in my mobile browser” I’m sorry to say this is not responsive design, meaning you get the same look as you would on a computer with a 15′ screen. Although not a big problem, zooming and panning around all that data can be difficult.

Remember I said above (in the second bullet point about social features) that I chose to use MyFitbessPall to log all my food entries? The reason for this is simple. Fitbit doesn’t have a UK-based food database. It is said to be in the pipeline, but frankly, because I was already using MyFitnessPal, and their app allows you to scan the barcode of the item you want to enter. With the API, it means that, as long as I have linked the two accounts together, my calorie content is transferred to Fitbit’s so you can see how much you’ve burned against how many you have consumed.

Final Conclusion:

To finish, I just want to say that I’m really glad Lorna, and I got these trackers. Lorna has definitely found it a help, and we have both been keeping an eye on our food intake and exercise output. Even over Christmas, we tried to be as careful and make good decisions whilst enjoying a yummy Christmas dinner.

I will be writing more updates and keeping you all informed about how using this Fitbit Flex has kept me healthy. I’m planning on showing the difference between a wrist worn device verses a hip worn device.

Oh, and Happy New Year readers! I hope 2014 is good to you. After all, it’s a new year, make a fresh start.

Using a Fitbit in a wheelchair:

Using a Fitbit in a wheelchair

So many to chose from, all with good and bad points.

Being in a wheelchair, exercise isn’t as easy as ‘popping’ to the gym and using the treadmill, or going for a morning run. Because the lives of wheelchair users are more sedentary than the average office worker, who at least walk to the car/toilet/lunch, we have to make a bit more of an effort at it. Or so I thought.

Motivation to track my steps:

In an effort to help my wife in her battle in losing weight, I decided to get us an activity tracker for Christmas. I spent two weeks looking into the different types of devices on the market which included the Fitbit family of devices (Fitbit One, Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Force), the Jawbone Up, and the Withings Pulse.  Each device had advantages and disadvantages. My thoughts of the best suitable trackers for me was:

  • A wrist mounted devices so that I’m less likely to lose it.
  • Be able to track my sleep, steps and calories burnt.
  • Connect with the other fitness apps I use.
  • The ability to connect to my phone to sync data and view stats.

In all my research, I couldn’t find any blog post, article or even forum post on all the fitness forums about the use of an activity tracker, like the ones mentioned above, in a wheelchair. The whole ‘raison d’ étre’ for an activity tracker is to track steps, which obviously not something I do a lot of. I can just about hobble around the flat on a good day, but anything beyond my front door is achieved using a wheelchair or mobility scooter. I sent Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings an email asking if it was any use in me buying a device being that I would be in a wheelchair most of the time. Only Fitbit had the decency to reply. Although written from a heavily marketing point of view, they did say that although the device is designed to be to track steps, it would give a reasonable measure of activity, allowing for a slightly larger margin of error than for walking. They reassured me that they were trying their best to make it as compatible with wheelchair users and would work on getting the margin of error down to a more acceptable level. I’d like to think this series of posts will help and maybe encourage other wheelchair or disabled readers to buy a tracker to stay fit and healthy.

Final decision:

After many hours reading all the reviews, comparisons and walk-through, I decided that as this was going to be a present for both me and my wife, I had to ask for her advice, despite ‘ruining’ the surprise.

We both decided that if we were going to get one, we ought to get the same one for compatibility. There wouldn’t be much point in me getting a different device as we wouldn’t be able to link up and compare stats. Lorna looked through all the devices I suggested, and we decided to get the Fitbit Flex tracker.


I can almost hear people making comments saying something like “Why don’t you use [xyz] app which will track your steps, and [xyz] to track your sleep?” or “Wouldn’t a pedometer be cheaper?”. Here is my answer to those comments.

The point of using a wristband format and not a clip on at the waist device is simple: I’m very forgetful, and sooner or later, it would end up in the wash. There are plenty of posts on the internet about people who have forgotten to take off their tracker from their trousers/bra/shirt, and it ends up in the wash. 7 times out of 10, the device is unusable, and they need to buy a new one. Pedometers are no more reliable than the wristband. Most cheap ones can be given a shake, and they add ten steps. Plus, when in the wheelchair, pushing myself along, the pedometer or clip on tracker is less likely to pick up the movement, where as being attached to my arm which is pushing the wheels to get around, it records the activity.

With regards to using phone based apps to track my sleep and steps, I’ve tried them. The step based apps usually do ok, as long as the device is in my pocket. But often, when I’m sitting round at home, it’s on the table, or on the sofa or (more often than not) being charged. Something attached to my wrist is always there, just like my watch.
The phone based sleep tracking apps are usually unsatisfactory because they rely on you having the phone placed on the mattress, and it records the vibration and noise. The problem is, I often move round in my sleep, and will knock the phone off the mattress, therefore rendering the stats null. Furthermore, it means that the phone has to be on and charging all night, which makes it hotter and it’s not recommended to have it under the pillow, which would secure it.

Stay tuned…

This is only the first of many posts to do with the Fitbit use in a wheelchair. I urge you, should you come across this in months to come without a recent update, to send me a message or comment asking for an update, and I will do so ASAP.

Next up: My thoughts on the Fitbit dashboard and phone apps

Photo Challenge for CRPS/RSD Awareness – Days 4 & 5:


I delayed my photo’s of days four and five of the CRPS/RSD awareness Photo Challenge because I had a problem.

Day 4: A picture of your favourite quote.
Day 5: A picture of what brings you hope.

I didn’t have anything that fitted into this criteria at first thought. I really don’t have a favourite quote relating to CRPS/RSD. I have one about writing I made up (One word written is better than a thousand planned) but not for CRPS. As I was trying to rack my brain, I suddenly remembered a song I had taken great comfort in. For a time, I was convinced it should be the anthem for anyone with Chronic Pain. It’s a song by Michael Bublé called “Hold On”. Bellow you will find a YouTube video of him singing it.

I personally feel that Michael Bublé is a very talented singer. The reason I like the song so much, and why I’m choosing it as my “quote of hope” is because of the lyrics. There are some which I find very relevant to people with Chronic Pain such as:

[…] maybe all the plans we made might not work out
But I have no doubt even though it’s hard to see
I’ve got faith in us, I believe in you and me […]


[…] There’s so many dreams that we have given up
Take a look at all we’ve got
And with this kind of love what we’ve got here is enough […]

It’s true that with Chronic Pain, and CRPS/RSD in particular, the plans we once made may no longer be possible. For example, I had always planned on becoming a Police Officer in the UK. It was my goal straight from leaving school. In the September after leaving school, I went for an interview with London’s Metropolitan Police. I failed (badly), but using the feedback they gave me, worked hard to gain life experience so that I would be ready for the next interview. I got as far as becoming a Police Community Support Officer which is not a sworn officer, but have many powers such as giving out tickets, collecting evidence, taking details of crimes etc. They don’t have powers of arrest (other than citizen powers of arrest).

Once I contracted CRPS, and it slowly spread up my leg and the pain got worse and worse, I couldn’t walk a beat anymore. I could no longer pursue my dream of becoming a Police Officer. I was fortunate that my Police force was very understanding and have allowed me to continue my job as a desk based worker in a different department.

The other reason I like this song is because the chorus tells the listener to hold on and not give up hope. This is where day five’s place comes in with the following picture:



This is a picture of my two boys (on either end), my wife (on the left), my parents-in-law (on the back row) and my wife’s cousin (in the middle). Like I’ve already said in day two, my wife has had to become my carer and has done so without being asked or coerced. She is always there for me to “hold on” to. So are my children.

I may not be able to get rid of this terrible disease, but thanks to the support of my wife and children, it won’t be so hard.

CRPS/RSD Photo Challenge – day 3: Share a Photo of ways you cope with pain



Yesterday, I was asked to show you a picture of ways I cope with CRPS/RSD pain. This photo, shows you the majority of ways I deal with my pain. I must confess, however, I take a lead from one of my friends who is also a sufferer and taking this challenge on the facebook group. My apologies to you Lynsey, but I guess we both have similar ways of coping.

Laptop (top left)

The laptop signifies my writing and coding which help me to escape my pain. I have so far written two manuscripts which I edit in slow time . I’m also learning to code HTML and Java. It is my hope when I have finished this, I will turn into a freelancing business from home, thereby no longer having to stress myself out getting to work. I mainly write fantasy, which also helps in my escapism.

Buddhism (top right)

I was raised a Christian, but found that Buddhism spoke more to me than the teachings of the bible. It has helped me see this disease as nothing more than Karma and not luck, melovolance or anything else. I have also come to see my suffering as a good thing. This may sound strange, but in my view, if I have this disease, then that’s one less person who has to deal with it. Maybe this is somewhat foolish thinking (as I doubt that Karma takes into account the amount of disease to spread round, but it makes me feel a little happier).

Batman (middle right)

I have been a Batman fan since I was a young boy, collecting stickers to enter in a book. I have only recently rekindled my love for the capped crusader, and have been watching videos and films, reading comics and books and playing games and role play on Batman, which I find very escapist and soothing.

Kindle (and/or other books)

Any other kind of reading, whether it be general fiction, HTML or Coding books or self help books, I find very relaxing. Ever since I finished a book cover to cover for the first time at the age of 14, I’ve been hooked on reading. My favourite fiction author is Lee Child. I just love the character of Reacher (no, not the Tom Cruise version).

Tablets (mid centre)

The tablets quite clearly are my most regular coping technique as I take 11 ½ tablets a day spread over three occasions (and trust me, that’s low compared to some of my friends). I don’t appreciate the constant side effects that all these drugs give me, but I’d be worse off without them.

Earl Grey Tea (mid centre)

Earl Grey tea is my go to for relaxation tea. My other is Green Tea. I originally started drinking Earl Grey because it was Captain Jean Luke Picard’s drink in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was one of my favourite programs as a kid. I find the smell instantly soothing as he often would have it as a refreshment when contemplating a difficult situation, or giving council to one of his officers.

Gaming (bottom left)

As I already said, I find gaming another great escape from my pain. Inside the world of gaming, I can explore deep and mysterious caves in Skyrim, or zoom round the streets of San Francisco in Driver or, better yet, jump off rooftops and swoop in on criminals and solve clues as The Worlds Best Detective (Batman). I think what I enjoy most is that in all these games, I’m not walking round Gotham with a stick or looking to see if the cave is accessibility friendly. I can walk again, without pain or sticks.

Walking Sticks (bottom)

Having just cursed them, my walking sticks are another coping mechanism. They are quite literally a crutch. If it were not for my sticks or my wheelchair, I would not be able to get round the flat. My leg often gives way, and the sticks help me to keep stabilised.

If it were not for all these things, along with the support of my family (mentioned in my previous post) my pist-CRPS/RSD life would be unbearable.