After much thought the Irish lock has decided that he wants to play in the next World Cup in England, having initially envisaged retiring before undergoing back surgery.
"There are always fears of retirement in the back of your head, especially coming into the surgery but once I got the confidence from the medical staff, I felt good about it all," said the Munster captain.
"Some days I would have had those fears and other days I wouldn't have. The thing with the back was that it wasn't bad enough to get an operation all along; it was so close to coming right.
"Day to day I hardly noticed I had it and it was only when I went back training and playing I felt it. It was my second back operation so that was a bit of a worry. But once I got it, the surgeon was so confident afterwards it was going to be fine, I was delighted."
His recent performances with the Lions, before his tour was hampered by an arm injury, were very reassuring.
"The way the Lions tour went, I felt very good. Warren Gatland runs very short training sessions, high-intensity training sessions, which suits me down to the ground. I hope to make the World Cup in 2015," he added.
But O'Connell was reticent at the idea of being the new Ireland captain, replacing Brian O'Driscoll who will not feature at the World Cup.
"I honestly don't know," O'Connell said of the captaincy. "There's a big demand mentally. It's something I'd have to give a lot of thought to. I know certainly on this Lions tour, I enjoyed not being captain. It allows you to focus on yourself and get your game right.
"Jamie (Heaslip) did a lot better job than he was given credit for with Ireland.".