Usually after I get past the initial "setting up the SDL screen" tutorial it gets way advanced and I lose it.
Hi. Are you following Lazy Foo's tutorials? If you aren't, give that a try. His are pretty "famous" for being a good starting point. If you are following them already, you should try doing as the tutorial tells you, and follow each tutorial in the correct order. That way, the topics will get increasingly advanced, not suddenly too advanced.
The only things I haven't gotten to/don't completely understand when I try to do are pointers and classes.
You should make sure you understand how to use pointers first, because the SDL library does require you to use pointers for many of its function calls.